"High Crimes: Mystery Writing in Nepal" with SJ Rozan & Meredith Cole

All mystery whether it be short story, novel, or screenplay, demands attention to all the elements of fiction: plot, pace, point of view, character, setting, dialogue. It also requires the understanding that in a mystery something lies behind the actions of the characters, something not fully understood until the mystery is unraveled.

What better place to work on any and all these elements of your work-in-progress, or even take your first step into mystery writing, than the Himalayas? 

Let the unexpected nature of life in Kathmandu kickstart your writerly creativity into high gear.  Craft talks, writing exercises, and workshopping your pages will fill your days at this retreat (but with plenty of time for yoga, meditation, and exploring!) and you'll return home accomplished, refreshed, and inspired.

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Day 1:  When you arrive in Kathmandu our drivers will be there to pick you up from the airport.  You’ll be transferred to the Hotel Vajra, where you can unwind from your journey, rest, enjoy the garden and a meal, and soak up the atmosphere.  Once everyone has arrived we’ll have a brief orientation meeting and dinner before turning in for the night.

 

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Day 2:  After an early breakfast at the Hotel Vajra, we’ll gather in the library for a brief opening meeting and then we’ll head out on our first adventure.  We’ll walk up to the nearby Swaymbunath stupa (also known as “The Monkey Temple”) for a spectacular view out across the entire Kathmandu Valley. We’ll also learn a bit about the local architecture and about Nepal’s rich Buddhist & Hindu religious traditions.  After lunch, we'll take a bus over to the beautiful Garden of Dreams, where we'll have time for personal writing or for one-on-one meetings with SJ & Meredith.  Afterwards we'll take a stroll through Asan Tol (the old market district) with James and then on to Thamel for a chance to enjoy some excellent authentic local cuisine.

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Day 3:  After an early breakfast at the Hotel Vajra, we’ll meet in the library for a morning of workshops & discussions before journeying to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Patan, with our expert local guide Anil Chetrakar.  For centuries, Patan has been a town of artisans & craftsmen and we today will have the chance to meet some of the people who give this city its unique beauty.  After a patio lunch at the peaceful Patan Museum Restaurant we’ll return to our hotel where you’ll have some time on your own to reflect & write before joining the rest of the group for a typical Tibetan meal at the beautiful rooftop restaurant of the Vajra.

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Day 4:  After breakfast at the Hotel Vajra we’ll again gather in the library for a morning of workshops, individual writing & discussion before journeying to Boudhanath, the Tibetan Buddhist heart of Kathmandu.  For centuries, this vibrant place of spiritual power has been the destination of pilgrims from around the world. For the next three days this will be our home as we explore and gather seeds of inspiration from the sounds, sights, tastes & smells swirling around the Great Stupa at Boudhanath.  Just before sunset we'll walk over to Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery, one of the earliest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Boudha, and sit with the monks as they do their evening chanting & rituals.

 

Day 5:  Pashupatinath is one of the most sacred Hindu sites in the Indian subcontinent.  In addition to being the home of wandering holy men, cave yogis, and Shiva devotees, the cremation ghats on the banks of the Bagmati River are an ideal place for us to reflect on the themes of loss and letting go.  We will be up with the sunrise today, to join the local Nepalis for their morning devotional prayers at Pashupatinath, and then we’ll return to Boudhanath for an afternoon of rest, reflection & writing.  In the evening you are free to explore the colorful side streets and markets of Boudhanath.

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Day 6:  The temples and monasteries of Boudhanath offer a living mandala of authentic spiritual teachers in the Buddhist tradition.  Today we will visit some of the monasteries of Boudha, and immerse ourselves in the teachings, visual expressions and rituals that bring this tradition to life.  We will also meet with an authentic Buddhist teacher and experience meditation practice in one of the local temples.  Afterwards, we will have a chance to make a very special visit to one of the hidden communities of Kathmandu.  Today is a day of exploring the possibilities of the writer's inner journey, and how that journey manifests on the page.

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Day 7:  Ascending to 1,550 meters above the Kathmandu Valley, today we journey to our new home for the next 3 days: the Namo Buddha Resort.  When the weather is clear, this beautiful resort, with its organic gardens and a relaxing spa, offers stunning views of the snow-peaked Himalayan mountains rising above the green fields & terraces of Nepal.  Here in the deep solitude of a mountain retreat we will have uninterrupted space and time to refine our individual writing, and to get inspiration & ideas from others.

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Day 8:  After a hearty breakfast in view of the snow-peaks, we will take a leisurely 45-minute hike to Thrangu Monastery, a large Tibetan Buddhist monastery perched high on a ridge overlooking the valley. This monastery is situated on one of the most important Buddhist sites in Nepal.  Later, when we return to the Namo Buddha Resort, we will have all afternoon to reflect on the experiences of the week and to have one-on-one meetings with SJ & Meredith about our own writing.  After dinner, will have a casual evening of sharing our own work, or the inspirational work of others if we choose.

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Day 9:  After breakfast in view of the snow peaks, we can either take a 2-hour hike to a local Tamang village with our guide, to have a glimpse of real Nepal village life, off the beaten path -- or we can stay at the resort and enjoy a leisurely day of writing on our own.  We will spend our last full day in the mountains, reflecting on the time we’ve spent together and creating space to draw out key insights & inspiration for the journey home.  In the evening, after reconvening for sunset cocktails, SJ & Meredith will hold an interactive session around topics relevant to spoken word & live performance.

 

 

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Day 10:  After a final breakfast in the mountains, we will return to Kathmandu for a celebratory day at the luxurious Dwarikas Hotel.  Here you will have an opportunity to take advantage of the hotel’s charming gardens, swimming pool, spa & shops, and in the evening we will gather again to enjoy an elaborate traditional Nepali-style dinner.  After dinner, we will conclude the Himalayan Writers Workshop with a public performance, spotlighting our featured writers & any participants who feel inspired to share their own work.

 

 

Day 11:  After breakfast at Dwarika's Hotel, it's time to say goodbye and head back home.  Our staff will be ready to help with airport transportation & anything you need for your onward journey...

Rooms are shared (private rooms are available for an extra fee depending upon availability).

You'll spend a total of 3 nights at the Hotel Vajra, an authentic, Newari-style hotel with some Tibetan touches. You'll have everything you need for a very comfortable stay. Rooms have parquet floors and the attached bathrooms all have shower and running hot water. There is a old-style Library with several writing tables at the Vajra, which will be used for our workshops.  Rooms are also equipped with chairs and writing desk and there are quiet corners to work in the gardens. Some rooms have a coffee table and private balcony.  Internet services are located on the ground floor.

During your 3 nights at the Siddhi Manakamana Hotel, you’ll rise to the sound of monastery horns and enjoy early morning practice as monastic life carries on around you. Siddhi Manakamana, located just a few steps from the Boudhanath Stupa – the heart of Buddhist Nepal – and offers simple, comfortable rooms, each with its own bathroom and hot water, flat screen TV, and balcony opening out to a pleasant garden. Here you can relax and be inspired by the many sights and experiences that this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers.

Our next 3 nights will be spent at the beautiful Namo Buddha Resort, located in the mountains on the southern edge of the Kathmandu Valley.  With sweeping views of terraced foothills, the resort is famous for its excellent food, private bungalows and its stunning panorama of Nepal’s famous snow-peaked Himalayan ranges.  Here we’ll have an inspiring environment and plenty of time to go deep into our individual work and our personal creative process.

For the final leg of our journey, we'll return to Kathmandu mid-afternoon and spend our last day at one of the city's finest addresses: the luxurious Dwarika's Hotel. Lonely Planet calls it "a cross between a museum and a boutique hotel, with a lush, pampering ambience."  Here we'll not only have time to relax and indulge a bit before heading back home, but we'll also host a final reading event, open to the public. The featured writers from the Himalayan Writers Workshop's will read from their own work and, if you feel inspired, you are welcome to add your voice to a final celebration of travel & creativity.

Program Fee:

$2,980 (USD) regular program fee double occupancy (+$400 for single room depending upon availability)
Final payment deadline: August 18, 2017

A non-refundable deposit of $600 is required at the time of registration to hold your space.

Late registration: After August 18, 2017 we can accommodate late registration only in the event that a space remains available. If a late registration is possible after August 18, 2017, full payment is required at the time of registration to hold your space and the entire payment is non-refundable.

Fee includes: 10 nights accommodations, 3 vegetarian meals per day on most days, bottled water and tea/coffee at meal times, scheduled excursions to pilgrimage sites, knowledgeable guides and teachers, all entrance fees, land transportation within Nepal, and airport transfers.

Fee does not include: air fare to and from Kathmandu, airport or departure taxes not included in your air ticket, visa fees ($40), additional hotel nights before or after scheduled program dates, unscheduled activities and excursions, soft drinks, alcohol and espresso drinks, phone calls, massage services, shopping, laundry or other personal expenses, additional meals, drinks and snacks, travel insurance, trekking extensions, or single supplements ($400 depending upon availability).

The program begins late Monday afternoon (around 4pm), September 18th and ends after breakfast on Thursday, September 28th. You may arrive on September 18th and depart on September 28th.

Please inform us if, due to flight arrival and departure dates, you require an extra night or two on either end of the trip and we'll place a reservation on your behalf. (A fee for extra hotel nights would apply.)