Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Mix of Cultural Events: Tibet, America, Bhutan, & Nepal

This month we've got a few events going on. First up this Friday is Losar, more commonly known as Tibetan New Year. Usually there are some celebrations out at Boudha where the Tibetan community of Kathmandu in large part lives. Kim and I went out there last year for the celebration and there were some tensions between Tibetan's who wanted to parade a portrait of the Dali Lama around the stupa and local authorities that are very sensitive to the wants and fears of the Chinese. I suspect it will mostly be lighthearted celebration and throwing some of that flour stuff up in the air while people cheer and chant stuff in a language that I can't comprehend. I really do love the people out at Boudha so I am looking forward to this.

Next we move back to my native United States as there is the upcoming Super Bowl next Monday morning which we will not be able to watch it appears. The only place that appears to be showing it is Phora, and as we are not members it doesn't look like we'll be seeing it there. So back up plan is in effect and the projector will get hooked up to the laptop which will have to stream the audio and have the play-by-play board from ESPN on. Now in some countries you might be able to find a stream of the full broadcast, but in Nepal the internet just isn't up to streaming live video feeds. The plan is currently to supply plenty of buffalo wings, pulled pork sandwiches, and nachos along with some beer and other light alcoholic drinks. A perfect start to a Monday morning with some football. Looking forward to a good game between the Packers and Steelers.

The following weekend we are leaving for a short five day trip to the small Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan. This country is a little difficult to get to and travel in, as the government sets a minimum amount of money to be spent per day and you have to receive a letter of invitation arranged by a travel agency to visit. After a few weeks of e-mails, scanning passports, and wiring cash we got our plane tickets and letters of invitation. One highlight for me will be visiting Taktsang Monastery, better known as tiger's nest, which sits on the side of a cliff roughly 3000 feet above the nearby valley. This is one of the most dramatically placed buildings on the planet and I've always wanted to go there since I first saw a photo of it. Our trip will also coincide with the Punahka festival which I think celebrates the victory over invading Tibetan forces and the result is lots of dancing, costumes and what should be a good time. Really looking forward to this trip and am not really sure what to expect.

After we get back it will be a week and a half to get things in order before Donnie and I set out to reach Everest Base Camp and the Gokyo Region. Yes I did this Trek just last Sept/Oct, but this time we will be walking in from Jiri, rhododendrons should be coming into bloom and I'll get another shot at going over the Cho La pass that I couldn't get to due to being turned back by the Ngozumpu glacier. I'm really looking forward to the part of the trek from Jiri to Lukla as I haven't done it since 2002 when the country was in the midst of civil war, I'm curious to see what those villages and towns are like along that part of the trail now. I remember many of the villages along that route fondly, and they have been some of the better ones I've stayed in amongst the middle hills of Nepal. That trail is also an endurance tester, as over the course of traversing the many ridges passes and valleys on your way to Everest your total elevation gain is higher than the summit of Mt. Everest, roughly 9000 meters, or 27,000feet. 

So there should be some fun things to talk about and pictures coming up soon, certainly an interesting month or two.

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