The only time I've left Nepal in the past year was for a short trip to Tibet back in July. It's funny that now as I get ready to fly to Thailand I feel like I'm leaving home, not just a place I was staying or traveling in. We've had a great year here and though things were sometimes awkward at first I'm really quite comfortable here now. Although Thailand is in many ways much easier to navigate than Nepal, my familiarity here makes it feel like a bit of the reverse.
The other day I went to buy some groceries for a dinner I was going to make for some friends when I opened my wallet and realized I had no debit card. Although we have access to Nepali funds through bank accounts here, that card is my link to US$, which are still very handy to have, especially if you will be in Thailand in a couple of days. Now the good news was that I realized this when I did, and not when I got off the plane and Bangkok to go use an ATM...that would have been a tough scenario. After a little research and some thinking it occurred to me that I may have left the card in an ATM, something that is very absent minded and quite stupid. Nepal being Nepal, I wasn't sure that even if I had done this I would ever see that card again.
For those that don't know, because they've been smart enough to always take their card after a transaction, the ATM machine will claim a card that has been left behind by sucking it into the machine if someone doesn't take it within an allotted period of time. The next morning I went down to the headquarters of Himalayan Bank (the owner of the ATM in question) and inquired about my card. Although helpful they were quick to try and get me to visit their card center in Patan. When I inquired to whether they could call to see if it was there, the guy I was dealing with was very helpful and made the call. Turns out the card was there and they would bring it to this office in a few hours for me to pick up. Crisis averted. I was actually a bit surprised how efficiently the whole process was and how polite the people were, so props to Himalayan Bank for providing services above and beyond what one normally experiences in Nepal.
So with that out of the way Kim and I did some last minute Christmas shopping, stopped by the market (sorry didn't have time to make salsa), and then went with Akshay and Jenara out to an organic farm for lunch and some relaxing scenery. Had a great time and some good food there, and saw the first blueberries, currants, raspberries, blackberries and passion fruit I've seen in Nepal. Cool spot, and we followed it up with dessert at Che Caroline's. Chocolates, apple crumble and macaroons were ordered and we had a good time, thanks a bunch to Akshay and Jenara for a fun day jest before heading south.
The one side note of this was that something somebody ate somewhere has not agreed with people's stomachs. Somehow I seem to have avoided any problems thus far (maybe I have iron guts) but Kim was up quite sick for the better part of the night, which is a terrible way to spend a night before you get ready to fly for 24 hours almost non stop. What particularly unfortunate is that in our year here so far we have not suffered from food poisoning once, so to be struck by it on the eve of departure seems a little cruel. I can only hope that something in my stomach doesn't drop mid flight. Anyway, I'm off to Thailand, and look forward to updating this blog from the road, hopefully with some interesting pictures as well.