So we have been planning been planning on going to Tibet some time in July for a while. A friend of ours & her boyfriend, were going to bein China & Tibet some time this coming month. Turns out that it was early July, and since the summer is by most accounts the best time to go, we thought it would make sense. We had planned on flying in so that we wouldn't have to rush, but we found we could get a better price if we drove in and flew back. In order to get there on the day that would coincide with Kim's friend however we have to leave on Tuesday. This Tuesday.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I think soccer (yes I'm American and it's soccer to me) can be a fun sport to play, I grew up playing it as a kid. It is however an atrociously boring sport to watch on TV. I'm not one for assertions of absolutes, but no matter how hard they try, the World Cup will never be big in American markets. No friggin way.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Napping in the Street, Speed bumps make good pillows
Coming from a place where we have no stray dogs and never have dogs loose on the street, Nepal is a bit of a throwback to what America might have been like before my time, before leash laws, and dog pounds. Having never been around street dogs really except while traveling in other countries I had always kind of assumed that they were vagabonds moving from one area to the next looking for a good meal, a place to nap out of the sun, and then moving on. This is not the case. The dogs live in a small fixed area. Sure there are no invisible fences or leashes, but most street dogs stay within 100 meters of the shop that throws them leftovers and bits of meat. Most often these are butcher shops, and each butcher shop seems to support a couple of dogs. The one around the corner from us supports four, which is quite high. I think some of the nearby shops contribute, but I'm not sure. Sometimes there are only three, as the dog we call Scardy was missing for quite some time, but recently he's shown back up.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
So we finally got a grill. After a few unsuccessful searches through town our friend Akshay recommended a welder who could make us a custom one based on the grill they use at Wunjula. Because the guy didn't speak much English the process took a bit, as we had to fall back on Akshay to call him for us. Anyway after about a month or two we have a great custom grill, which should be quite handy. One would think our difficulties would be over at this point, but like everything in Nepal, you have to learn how to do things a little differently. I went to the super market near the house and was able to find some charcoal, but each bag was almost $10, which is pricey for these parts. When I picked up the charcoal I had thought it was ready light, you know the stuff that is infused with lighter fluid or what ever makes it flame up. Well last night I went to light it and no luck, a close inspection of the bag, and sure enough it's the original stuff. Hmm.
No problem, I'll just go pick up some lighter fluid. I checked the nearby stores and no luck.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
About a month ago I started to notice a new fashion trend among Nepali men, Britney Spears T-shirts. Lots of em. There are I think three different shirts, one with Brit sporting a hat, one letting her hair out and another with her showing off a little cleavage. Strangely the one with the hat seems to be the most popular. I never followed Britney close enough to be able to date the shirts (to be honest I wouldn't have recognized her if her name wasn't also on the shirt) but my guess is that the original run of these shirts went in the early part of this decade, maybe 2004 or so tops. Her sudden mass appearance is somewhat of a mystery, it certainly isn't due to popular music, as most Nepali people seem to listen mostly to Nepali Music or Indian Music. My guess is that when a product has no hope of any sales in the U.S. they make their way to Nepal. It's kind of like the island of misfit toys, only for clothes.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Kathmandu isn't a city for everyone, but it seems to fit me really well. Seeing the extent of the pollution here, the first thing that pops into your head isn't a healthy lifestyle, but that is what it has provided for me. Since moving here I have gotten into the best shape I have been in for at least ten years, I have a lot more energy, and I am getting so much more done. The downside is that all my pants need to have a couple inches taken out of the waste.
There are two large factors contributing to this, the first being a large shift in diet. I don't think I had an unhealthy diet in the States, I've always tried to consume lots of fruits and veggies, and tried to stick more to grilled and lean meats. Back home though I ate out a lot more, and I ate tons more bread, cheeses and although i have never been a heavy drinker, I consume even less alcohol here. I prepare more meals for Kim and myself together here, and since she is vegetarian I mostly only eat meat when we go out to restaurants. Cheese is either expensive or impossible to get and so its consumption is way down. We occasionally get French style goat cheese, and use that imitation grated parmigiana stuff that comes in a shaker, but that is about it.
Monday, June 7, 2010
This is my last post on my trek around Annapurna, and it will cover crossing the 17,700 foot Thorung La pass to the town of Jomsom via Kagbeni, and the not so straight forward trip overland from there to Pokhara. These entries have been titled Annapurna Circuit in 7 days and if you're keeping track there is only one day left. This last day was a long 23 mile journey that brought me from the highest point on the Annapurna trail, all the way to its exit point.
Clouds clear as I ascend above High Camp
So after a cold night at high camp I rolled over at 5AM, looked out the window and it was as I had feared; fog. Ughh. I was kicking myself that I had not gone over the pass the day before. Finding it difficult to get the courage to get out from under the warm blankets I waited until almost 6AM to actually get out of bed. I had eaten extra the night before, and didn't want to take the time to eat breakfast, so I paid the guy running the guest house and was on my way to meet the 17,700 foot Thorung La pass.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
In this post I'll go over the part of the trail that takes you over the north end of the Annapurnas and describe the trail between Chame and High Camp near the Thorung La pass. This was my favorite part of the whole trip and the scenery and villages in this section really made the whole trip worth it. Manang especially was one of the most scenic areas that I have ever been.
Cappadocia like Rock Formations just West of Chame
After being quite exhausted on my arrival in Chame, it was nice to get some serious down time and rest up for the next day's hike. I woke up feeling great and after a quick breakfast and some chatting with the Australian trekkers I headed out for the trail. The trail crossed a bridge to the north side of the river and hugged closely to the north ridge, at times the trail even was cut out of the cliff face. The further west from Chame I walked the dryer the environment got, and slowly the scenery began to resemble the American West, with some rock formations that looked somewhat simmilar to some of what you see in Capadocia Turkey. The mix was really beautiful, and the natural scenery through this section was amazing. Views of snow capped mountains continued to dip in and out of view to the south as well, providing stunning views.
Friday, June 4, 2010
So starting with this post I will go over in detail the actual hike itself on the Annapurna Circuit. This section will deal with getting to the trail head in Besi Sahar and the first two days which got me all the way up the east side of the trail to the village of Chame.
When I left off a few posts ago, I was traveling to Pokhara because I had arrived at the Kathmandu office too late to get my ACAP permit. The thought here was that the gateway of Besi Sahar was in fact close to Pokhara. After a seven hour bus ride to Pokhara I bumped into some friends, had some good food and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere at lakeside. Because the office that issues the ACAP permit didn't open until 10AM I had a relaxing morning, had a good breakfast and meandered down to the tourist office at dam side around 9AM. While waiting outside this office I read that the bus to Besi Sahar would take five long hours from Pokhara. Good grief.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
View from Praken Gompa, Manang
Any time I say I'm going to be away for a while I always seem to come back a little faster than planned. I had been told that the Annapurna circuit took a minimum of two weeks, but with a little over ambitious hiking and the addition of roads for quick entry and exit to the best parts, I managed to do it in seven days. What is to follow is a retelling of my personal experience, I am in no way recommending this as a template for other people. Often times when I would check in at the ACAP check points the people had to have me explain multiple times where I had come from, followed by questions about what time I got up in the morning, and then finally the inevitable "You must be very fast trekker". Apparently. I point this out not to brag, but as to make it clear that the itinerary I will describe in the following posts may not be something to plan your own trip around.