First of all the trip started with a fail. The day before we were to leave I got this incredible pain in one of my teeth. I tried to ignore but I couldn’t and we didnt have time to go to the dentist so my Dad got me some antibiotics and I was on a regular dose of Advil. For the first few days I woke up at 3AM because that is when the Advil would wear of and the pain would wake me. Eventually it did get better and I stopped taking the Advil. After 2 DAYS of travelling we finally made it to Kathmandu, Nepal. Definitely a culture shock. I was so overwhelmed immediately. You walk out of the airport and all these cab drivers and hotel people swarm you trying to convince you to go with them, trying to take your bags for you and lead you to a car. Thankfully we had someone there for us, but it wasn’t the best start. Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and houses half of the population (10 milion people in one city)! There are people everywhere. It is loud and at first the driving just seemed insane. Everyone is honking and weaving in and out of each other and into the opposite lane. There are motocyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians and cattle just walking out into the road. There are no lights and I am surprised that not once during the entire trip did I see a car accident. Also there was just trash everywhere. In the rivers, on the side of the road, in all patches of grass. Then you have to fend of hoards of people pushing you to buy from them. It was just too much at first and I was not a fan. The second day in the city was planned out enough that I was able to cope with it better. All our meals are nice and leisurely so after breakfast we headed to the “Monkey Temple”. We were going to try and walk there because we were told it was in walking distance, but clearly Nepali people have differing opinions about what is doable. Thankfully we just decided to get a cab. It would have taken us forever to walk there and we probably wouldn’t have been able to find our way anyhow. Its just a Buddhist temple, but there are tons of monkeys playing and swiming around (hence the name). We stayed there for a while and some how Jack started following this “guide” who claimed to live at the temple with other orphans. He was very well informed though, but Im pretty sure Mom fell victim to the “milk and cookies” scam (they are in cahoots with the store owner so when you buy from the store it is sold to you at a jacked up price and later the kid goes back, returns the stuff, and pockets the difference). Oh well!
Maybe I shouldn’t be going into so much detail. If I keep at this pace this post will be ridiculously long or I will have to break it up. But then I wont have anything to tell you when I see you ’cause you will know it all already. New plan. Its going to kind of be like an outline with little blips about what we did or things that stand out. You can always ask if you want to know more, but I’m pretty sure there will still be tons of information.
Made it to Nepal. Airport was crazy. CULTURE SHOCK! People and trash everywhere. Got to ACME Guest House (name does not inspire confidence) fairly late so just had dinner and went to bed. Nice room but air conditioner doesn’t work so I sweat all night long.
Monkey Temple -Not a walkable distance and directions are crazy confusing. Must get a cab. Make sure to determine a price before getting in or you are screwed and it is awkward. Buddhist. Lots of monkeys. They can swim under water! Got scammed by a well-informed kid. Had to happen eventually. Walk clockwise around temples and stupas.
Pashupatinath (Hindu temple and cremation center) -Bagmati River = Ganges. Public allowed to view all cremations and take pictures. Cremation in progress. Its just not decent to take pictures of that, but my mom and brother didnt seem to have to much trouble. Took some pictures with some Sadhus (really holy people that only went on that path because their horoscopes told them they would fail at everything). Those pictures will cost you. Jack wiped out on some stairs trying to get me the Advil from his backpack. So much information about the cremation rituals and the Sadhus…i took notes.
Boudhanath (Buddhist stupa) -One of the largest in the world. Circular structure with shops around it. Religious center for exiled Tibetan monks. Had a chat with one. So tired that we all took naps. Jack slept through dinner, but I found this amazing place called Yangling. It is super cheap and super good. I got chicken momos (dumplings) and mom got some noodle soup thing and we both got drinks. I think it cost like 300-400 Rs. which is like $5.
Catch bus at 6:30 for Pokhara. 7 HOUR BUS RIDE! HOT AND SWEATY! Jack and I continued playing this super intense block game we started on one of the plane rides that takes up an entire sheet of graph paper. Didnt finish. Bombarded by taxi drivers and hotel people at the “bus station”. Made it to Crowne Hotel. Amazing roast chicken at Sweet Memories. I will now compare all chicken to it. Couldn’t finish it because my annoyingly small stomach and I felt bad because the lady thought I didn’t like it. Pokhara is much better than Kathmandu. A lot chiller.
First day of 5 day trek. Crazy mountain driving. Blind hair pin turns at way too fast speeds. Have a guide and a porter (too bad none of us can remember their names, fail). Muscles need to warm up. So much sweat…and tomorrow is the hard day. Made it to Hille. Learned 2 new card games from the guide and porter. I use learn very loosely. One I totally understand and is kind of like Go Fish! but better. The other is kind of like Canasta but I dont know how to win.
Aahhh! The first two hours just consisted of climbing up the steepest stairs I have ever seen! MISERABLE. Eventually it got “easier” and by that I mean it was a little less step and sometimes actually sloped. Singing camp songs to yourself helps. LEMON TEA! It was so good, but all the other times I tries it it wasn’t so great. Jack and Mom had a conversation with some guys about how they miss Diet Cokes ’cause they haven’t been able to find any on the trail. Made it to Ghorepani. Actually cool here. Like need pants and can sleep with the covers on cold. Did nothing but laid in bed, except for dinner.
Got up at 4AM to see the sunrise at Poon Hill. Meet up with the Diet Coke guys again. Mom got frustrated and started crying so Jack and I just kept going and she caught up later. Not peak season so not many people. Gorgeous mountains. Got to use the panoramic setting on mom’s new camera. Talked to an English guy who said I would have a difficult time understanding people next year. Met an Australian girl on her year of travel (apparently a common thing for them to do). I would not want to travel alone like she was. Breakfast and then the real day of trekking begins. Down stairs is not better than up. Less of a struggle, but possibly more pain. Kept passing the Australian girl. Saw a whole family of wild monkeys licking the salt of some rocks. Made it to Tadapani. Ate dinner with a German couple who were finishing up a 3 month trip around the world. He had just proposed to her in Hawaii and no one knew about it yet. Drugged myself with Benadryl. Almost forgot to take my malaria pill.
I dont know why I keep waking up before 5, but at least I slept well. Breakfast with the German couple. Managed to walk in on the girl while she was using the restroom (social fail). I’m pretty sure I was more embarrassed. Mostly all down hill or flat! Came to a perfectly spaced out and gradual set of stairs. No effort to get down them. For the first time I didn’t have to constantly look at my feet. Made it to…don’t remember the name. Meet a cute little girl. Weird burst of energy. Got freaked out by a spider on my bed. Jack managed to cut the water off while in the shower and had to walk back to the room with shampoo in his hair (Fail). They had scalding hot showers and I had an ice bath.
Last Day of Trek! The guide is nice, but I am tired of having him around. I don’t think I could pretend to be interested in birds much longer. Only 2 1/2 hours of hiking because we went so far yesterday. Some Neplai guys making a video fo school asked us to be in it and introduce ourselves to the camera. They kept saying how handsom Jack was but they didn’t mention anytning about mom or me. At one point 3 dogs were following us. Crown Hotel. Guide’s name is Balarama (better late than never?). Jack and Mom went to some chanting thin to celebrate the Lunar eclipse and the Venus Passing, but I stayed in the room and rested. I needed some alone time.
Walked around Pokhara. Found a fair trade shop/woman’s development center and I wanted to buy everything in there. Ended up getting a hat, 2 bags, and a wallet. Mom does this really annoying thing where she makes us pay for everything together. I just can’t haggle for someone else’s stuff. I got really nervous and Jack ended up handling it all (fail). Jack played SPEED with me for the first time in years and I dominated, of course. Went to Tibetan refugee center and sat in on some Buddhist chanting.
Barely slept, but I finally finished Running with Scissors. Went paragliding. Got put with this guy named Olivier from the French part of Sweden. Kind of an ass. Supposed to go for 1 hour but we caught the end of the cycle and couldn’t get enough altitude. I only got to go for 30 minutes and had to wait another 30 minutes at the bottom for Jack and Mom to finish (fail). It was fun but not thrilling. Very calm and peaceful. A bit surreal. Jack and Mom passed out for the rest of the day because they took some Dramamine before paragliding because they were afraid they would get sick.
Had lunch at this nice lakeside place. Went to World Peace Pagoda. Could see all of Pokhara from up there. More STAIRS! Two guys started taking pictures of Jack. Don’t know why. Packed for Chitwan National Park.
Got up and ready to leave by 7:30 to catch bus to Chitwan. Turns out we are leaving tomorrow (FAIL). Went to another lake about an hour away. Rented a canoe and paddled around for an hour. Didn’t burn! Bunch of Buddhist monk children playing soccer and swimming. Talked with this guy from Nepal who goes to Washington University in St. Louis. Asked if my name was like Katy Perry. Jack got some hemp pants and was very excited about them. Last meal at Be Happy.
5 hour bus ride to Chitwan. Hot and sweaty. Watched sunset on river. Yellow stuff started falling on us. The color of mustard but we have no idea what it was. Never solved that mystery (fail). Dinner, then Tharu cultural program.
Started the day with a nice canoe ride. Saw a bunch of birds and a type of crocodile that only lives in Nepal. Trekked through brush to see a rhino we heard but to no avail. Nature hike started with a warning about what to do if we saw a tiger, a sloth bear, or a rhino. Tigers: make eye contact and back away slowly. If it starts to attack you are just screwed. Sloth Bears: get in a clump and make loud noises. Guides have sticks to hit their noses. If they attack they go straight for the face. Rhinos: run in zig-zag manner, hide behind tree or climb up one. We could have taken a rhino. Only saw some deer and boars. Elephant breeding place. Too sad, just kept imagining that one scene in Dumbo where the mother is rocking him through the bars. Not smart on my part. Sat on an elephant’s back as it walked through the river. Sprayed us with water. It was AMAZING! One of the best moments of the entire trip. Skin lightening commercials. Safari on elephant back. Got a gift from an elephant! Picked up a peacock feather with its trunk and gave it to me. Unfortunately it did not travel well. Saw 4 rhinos sitting in a pond. Frogs on their backs. Saw a leopard. Fed the elephant bananas. Put then directly in his mouth. They have weird tongues. I love Elephants!!
Bus ride back to Kathmandu. Started out as the only people on the bus, after numerous stops it was filled. Left at 9:30 got there at 4. Finished Emma and started Childhood’s End. So tired we just ate and rested back at ACME. Signed up for Bungee Jumping.
Kathmandu is much better now. I navigated our way through the city and to Durbar Square, a world heritage site. Did it all from memory and didn’t get lost. Went to the street formerly known as “Freak Street”. It has seen better days. Saw a piece of street art by Space Invader! Jack and I were very excited. Got lost (FAIL). Were on the right track but then missed a turn. It is difficult ‘cause it its hard to tell the difference between alleys and streets. We had to have walked all around the hotel before we got back to it. Very tired after that because we ended up walking around for forever. Jack freaked out about the bungee jump all day. It was all he could think/talk about. Ate momos at Yangling.
Meet up to leave for Last Resort at 5:45. BUNGEE JUMP! I was disappointed because I didn’t really freak out before it and I knew it would be more fun if I freaked out. I mean you doesn’t freak out before jumping off a bridge?! Short scream of shock and surprise. Jack found it hilarious. It was fun but not as much as I expected. Any adrenaline was shortly dissipated on the hike back up. Stupid stairs. Jack was freaking out before his jump. I could see him messing with his hair on the bridge and I knew that meant he was worried. He did it though and he was so proud of himself ‘cause he always said he wouldn’t bungee jump. Stayed in really cool tents, unfortunately not in trees.
At about 9 Mom and I went to do the canyon swing, the tallest in the world. The freefall was twice as long as that of the bungee and I was the first swing of the day. I was so nervous. It was crazy. I don’t know why but it is just more natural to dive off than to go feet first. I really freaked out when they hooked me to the rope. For the swing they use ropes instead of rubber and ropes are very heavy. I felt the weight pulling me down. When I got on the ledge I just was like “No, No. I can’t do this!” then he went “1,2,3, Bungy!” and I just went. He let go and I am not sure if I jumped or if the ropes pulled me off. I screamed and did bicycle kicks all the way down. Once I got out of my harness a few tears fell just because I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was the scariest thing I have ever done. I did not know the true meaning of terror until that. Afterwards I felt like I could do anything. I’ll make sure to post the video on Facebook because it is hilarious. Every time I watch it I still get a bit nervous or anxious. The rest of the day was chill. I had my first massage. I even socialized. I spent the evening with Bernice from France, Margot from the Flemmish part of Belgium, and Miriam from Ireland. They are all teaching English in Kathmandu and on the weekends they travel. It was fun. Margot had just come from India and she loved it there.
White water rafting! I have now gone rafting in 3 countries: USA, Costa Rica, and Nepal. Jack and I were like a well oiled machine when it came to paddling. We even impressed ourselves. 3 hour bus ride back to Kathmandu. Finally had to endure all of “Baby” by Justin Bieber. Said our goodbyes to Bernice, Margot, and Miriam.
Went to Patan Square. Definitely the square to go to. Had a really cool museum that has been called one of the best in the subcontinent. Went to some fair trade shops. I bought you both some gifts, so be ready for some presents when I visit. Hopped in a local van to get back to Thamel. Got lost (fail). Got a cab.
Today’s mission was PANTS! Had to wait forever again for jack to finish talking to Sarah. I just don’t understand, but maybe it’s because I’ve never been in a relationship. It seems so foreign and strange. Haggled a guy down from 650 RS to 500 for a pair of pants. That’s like $5.
Last day in Nepal. Went to the giant stupa again. We were going to have a haggling war but no one was in the mood. I didn’t feel like buying anything. We were all already in airplane mode. Karma, the main guy at ACME, gave us a shirt and a white scarf for safe travels. He was so nice. Drove at night for the first time and that is an entirely different experience. Attacked by mosquitoes at the airport. Plane actually left early.
Then there were just a bunch of plane rides and layovers until we got to Atlanta. I didn’t sleep for more than two hours and I didn’t sleep till 10 am the day after I got home. It was crazy. Ally and her mom picked us up and I was so excited to see her. We were pretty crazy. Then when I got home I was so excited to see Sam (he had just gotten back from his trip earlier that evening). Jack and I woke him up at 2Am and made him play Mario Kart on the Wii with us. Then I watched 6 episodes of Dollhouse. At 10AM we tried to watch Doctor Who but I passed out. It took me forever to get back on the right sleep schedule because it’s an 11 hour difference and I didn’t sleep on the plane.
You know, we never did finish that game of blocks (FAIL!).