Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nepal 6: Namaste, Nepal

In the end our trek was about 28 miles total. 

'I hiked stairs for four days and all I got was this ID card'

After we unloaded our gear at Kim's, we went out for more Kathmandu tourism.We learned more about the country, and passed vehicles with interesting spellings like "pik up" or "pawared by [fill in the blank]" 

Kim's family car was a motorbike called a "Unicorn." I thoroughly enjoyed the Unicorn.

It was on the Unicorn that I had the exhilarating experience of riding on the back of a motorbike through the streets of Kathmanduliterally so close to the traffic around us that at one point I hit my knee on another bike's mirror while we navigated the city streets. This is how it looked at times:

At another point, we had three of us on the bike, as Kim, her husband and I all "carpooled' to dinner.

We basically looked like this, but more cramped:

Christin's flight was before mine, so before she left, we all wandered around Kathmandu together. We rode a rickshaw to Thamel, and passed by the many "Northfake" (fake NorthFace) stores. 

Monks window shop too

Me in my rickshaw taking a photo of Kim in her rickshaw

Streets around Thamel
 We saw Durbar Square again

Chillin' on the steps of "hippie temple" where rock legends used to hang out to find enlightenment

View from hippie temple of Durbar Square

And went to see: The Kumari.

The Kumari is believed to be a "living goddess" in Nepal and the story fascinated me. From what I gathered, a committe selects a little girl through a series of tests (must have good family history, can't have any cuts, can't show fear when left alone in a scary building at night....interesting stuff.)  And she becomes the Kumari until she's reaches puberty. She can't ever bleed, so she has to be carried everywhere outside so that she doesn't cut her feet or anything. She lives in a building in the square without her family and has keepers and teachers around her. At a certain time of day, people are allowed to catch a glimpse of her for just a second. It's considered kind of like getting a blessing from her. 

I of course had to see this little Kumari.

The current one is about 9 years old I think. We weren't allowed to photograph her (although, don't be silly, you could purchase photos of her outside), but sure enough, at the time alotted, we all gathered in the inner courts of her house and were told to watch the upper center window. And all of a sudden, this small girl with elaborate makeup appeared in the window. She looked serious and almost bored. She looked around and then disappeared again. 

inner courts

I did not take this photo! They did - http://asianitinerary.com/magic-kathmandu-basantapur-durbar-square/

I wondered what it must be like to be swept away from your family, told you were a god, then have that all yanked away when you got your first period and you then lived like a "normal person" from then on. One of the former Kumari's is now a software engineer in the U.S. somewhere. Crazy.

Christin left and I spent my last day seeing more of Kathmandu. I saw another square: 

Patan Durbar Square with a million of my closest friends

And again realized how much I really don't fit in Nepal:
oh HAI ceiling!

Yep, mind your head indeed
And I also had a "Trekker's massage." I once again rode though Kathmandu streets with no helmet on the back of a motorbike with a man I just met (sure, it was Kim's husband, but still) - my parents would be so proud! -- and then arrived in front of a dusty building. It definitely didn't look like a typical "spa" from the outside, but hey, it was like a third of the price of a DC massage and it ended up being lovely. 

I had dinner with Kim and her husband before finally boarding my plane around 10 pm headed to Dubai. 

...where a slew of new adventures awaited me during the 24 hour layover I would spend in the United Arab Emirates. 

More in the next post. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015


I went from seeing extreme poverty to seeing the most ridiculous wealth in a matter of hours.

I arrived in Dubai at 2 a.m. and had precisely 24 hours to tour around before boarding my last plane back to the states.

I made the most of it.

After curling up in a chair near a coffee kiosk and setting my travel alarm, I woke up around 8 or 9 am and began to convert the women's bathroom into my personal dressing room. I put my contacts back in my tired eyes, changed lcothes and put on makeup. I left my bags and jumped on the city metro train bound for the Old City.

I rode an Abra to the Old City, hit the gold Souk,

where I was immediatley pounced on by merchants. Ah yes, markets. This was not my first rodeo. 

I steeled against the "you want purses?" undercover implorings at each intersection I crossed. 

Where was the gold?

finally saw AH! gold then decided I did want purses. so the hunted became te hunter and I set out to find a purse guy.

It didn't take long. A man saw the .. in my eyes and began dragging me throught hte market.

This may have caused apprehension, but I knew what this was. I was once pushed into a fak door ...chiniatown then shoved out of it when the cops were coming.

I calmly and cheerfully let myself be run all over the market as if I were being kidnapped. This is all part of the game.

 was draggged around by a merchant, hit the spice and textile souks, rode a boat back, hopped in a cab, ran to the Burj... for the most expensive lunch I've ever had, took a golf cart over to .. to see more opulence before taking a cab up town to the Burj in time fo rmy appointment to go up to the hight observation tower, looked around the Dubai mall, saw the fountain show, took the metro train back to the mall of the emirates to see the ski lift, then finaly made it back to the airport in time to grab my things, take a cab over to the proper terminal, eat a sandwich and finally board my flight home at 2am on Monday. Which was delayed because of a medical emergency on board. 

Kentucky Derby winners are less tired than I was after that weekend.

OR just list: saw


took every form of transportaiton:

I'm of the Go Big or Go Home school of thought.

Saw seik going into gym. That whistle ring on every cell. Pretty sure I paid nearly 20 for sparkle water. Man in souk dragging me everywhere. Reminded me of China purse lady in nyc. "America supreme country. " how many territories?

Don't understand ppl who can fly intl in nice outfits. I had yoga pants and a sweater that would randomly show way too much and I felt nicer than normal.

Navy Camp

Officer training school.
Like real world watching people come to the house the first time.

isolated buttocks

Railroad sounds





Lunas saying she did 100 push ups because chief kept saying " you know who you are -- go destroy your body"

pool jump - her faceplanting and instantly inflating.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Nepal 5: Tea and Rabies

I told you that my feet overheated on day 3, but I didn't tell you that I went to bed -

at 7:30pm.

By day four, I was full on head-coldy and exhausted but I wasn't the only one struggling:

Those were Christin's feet. There's so much going on here, I don't even know where to start.  At one point along the way, both she and I had the humbling experience of having someone else put bandaids on our trekker's feet after we realized our boots were giving us blisters. She had already lost a toe nail from her previous hike before this so she was definitely faring the worst.

But we had now reached our last day of the trek so we continued to hobble  head down the stairs.

I called the fourth day Fern Gulley because while it looked similar to the Lord of the Rings days, it had less fog and more water. Welcome to the inside of my brain. It's scary in here, you should get out quickly...

Fern Gully day

We passed a spot where trekkers were leaving little stone markers, kind of like an "I was here" type gesture. So we did too.

We passed more interesting sights, like this:

Nothing to see here, just carrying some animal hooves....
And passed more animals like this:
At one point, a mule passed gas right on me after I politely greeted it with a Namaste. Since I was already sick and fairly exhausted by that point, it seemed pretty appropriate, really.

At some point, we strayed from the path in order to walk across a terraced field.

Me being obsessed with those things, I was very happy to be walking right in one:

..until I found out we'd need to go down a steep embankment to get back on our trail:

I ended up sliding down on my rear end. Vanity was long gone by that point.

We eventually made it back down to Terraced Fields scenery again, where I snapped a photo which shows so many elements that were normal sights for us:

And another normal sight was Dom, our guide, looking back at me wondering if I was stopping because I was tired, taking yet another photo, or both. (usually it was both)

That's Dom, looking back at me.
Here are more of my pics from that last leg:

We made it!

Well, almost. We finally made it back to down to the point where our driver would pick us up and take us into Pokhara. We had "splurged' and reserved a hotel room for that night that included heat and our own clean, western style bathroom complete with a shower. When we walked in, we nearly weeped with joy.

It was Thanksgiving day back in the States, so we showered and headed out to enjoy dinner.

Our Pokhara Thanksgiving meal

We discovered that Kim had brought a surprise can of cranberry sauce for us to feel more like home, and that can was schlepped around in "Christina" for the whole dang trek.

...we could never find a can opener, however, so those cranberries are likely still in that can to this day.

Nice thought, though.

We looked around Pokhara for a bit:

And it was here the we saw more other "bideshis" (foreigners) than we had our entire trip. The place was full of other western trekkers... and hippies.
No need, indeed.

I call this: Hippies on a stoop.

 And Pokhara was also full of interesting things like this:

No idea....
We went to bed and woke up early to catch our long ride back to Kathmandu (thanks to the air travel restrictions currently in place.)

The morning was terribly foggy and having seen how traffic works in Nepal, Christin's first question when she got into the front seat of our taxi was " Should I wear a seat belt or just get thrown clear?"

We all decided she'd probably fare better in an accident if she was just thrown from the vehicle. And with that, we all settled in for a potentially frightening, potentially long ride back.

Because of my tendency to become vomitting-goat-ish, I ended up taking two Dramamine before the ride. I didn't realize I should've only taken one until after I kept falling into unconsciousness and at one point dreaming that I had reached transcendence. 

I guess the Buddhist culture had seeped into my subconscious and I distinctly remember, during the dream, thinking "this will be funny later"...  and it was. 

Thankfully our driver was really cautious, and we drove through the fog safely, through traffic that included many giant trucks like this one:

(Pic found on Hope for the Hills)

These colorful trucks typically are used for carrying in goods from India. They all had amusing sayings on the front like "Speed Control," or "See You," or "Road King." I was hoping our driver did indeed, see those road kings in the fog.

I also hoped he took this Nepali motto to heart:

Slow Drive. Long Life.

I recall waking from my enlightenment coma long enough for us to have tea along the road at an establishment that included some type of animal running around. I honestly can't remember if it was a dog or a cat, but I just remember us girls joking that we were stopping, you know, for "some tea and some rabies."

That type of joke occurred more than once as we passed animals that truly appeared to be just waiting to give us diseases. At one point, when we were surrounded by pigeons, Kim - the local - dead panned "aaaaaand: Typhoid." In such situations, you just have to matter-of-factly laugh and keep it moving.

Asphalt was an elusive commodity during our ride back, disappearing, then reappearing at will. Sometimes in a wide enough strip to pass another car on, sometimes not....

 More typical "traffic"...

We finally made it back to Kathmandu around lunch time and, after unloading our things at Kim's, we headed out for more sightseeing.

I'll tell you about getting a "trekker's massage" and seeing a living "Goddess" in the next post.