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Reflections Of A Year Abroad…Part 2

Here continues my final reflections from my year abroad.. and just in time to start my new adventures coming up…

New Zealand

New Zealand, like Australia, was one of the top contenders for “where I might want to live when I grow up…” While Australia was vast and overwhelming, NZ was stunning and easy to travel in. The people were also downright “nice” as the Aussies put it. Heck I was even wished happy early birthday by an immigration office when they had to double check my info that apparently is similar to a person of interest

I loved NZ and the Kiwis and got to amazing things there. Like dig my own hot tub at Hot Water Beach. Cover myself in thermal mud and take relax in a sulfur spring in Rotorua. Jump off a mountainside and paraglide, screaming all the way, in Queenstown.

Free as a bird

I even ade it to all THREE islands: North (right upto the tippy top), South and Stewart Island (the 3rd) where I did trade work at Bunkers Backpackers, one of the best spots in all of NZ.

A drink with the locals

The Worst Part Of NZ: would have to be the hacking cough I developed for about 3wks, felt so bad for my fellow dorm mates, oh and the price of lamb (so much for my bday roast 😦 )

The Best Part of NZ: friends, paragliding, mud and Stewart Island.

A Reason to Come Back: Everything

Malaysia and Borneo

The plan post NZ was to go volunteer in Sri Lanka at an animal shelter. They had contacted me and asked me to come promising accomodation and no fee. Sounded perfect and I was all set with tickets. Mid Tonga I got a message saying a returning volunteer was staying for 6mths and they were giving her my accomodation, but I could still come I just had to pay to stay… Well that blew that plan out of the water. My ticket on air asia was a ticket to Kuala Lumpur and then to Sri Lanka. I had great friends who I hadn’t seen in years in KL. So I scratched my 2nd ticket and ate the losses, planned a short visit to KL then discovered a converted oil rig in Borneo (a short flight) for scuba diving. Sounds like a perfect recovery plan to me.

I can’t tell you enough about how great it was to see my friend Chauw (first time in 7yrs) and meet his fabulous wife, Viven, and dog Pakkun (who really runs the house). They welcomed me like a long lost relative and put me up, fed me, and showed me around. It felt like home and I can’t thank them enough. I only wish I had had more time to stay.

Great Friends/Family

But Borneo beckoned and since I had to go through immigration it counts as a country on my list. The Seaventures Dive Rig, a converted oil rig, was incredible and with a sealavator that went straight into the ocean a diver couldn’t ask for more. This was my first DIVE VACATION and my first in tropical water, the rig made it truly spectacular in every way.

THE SEAVENTURES RIG!

The Worst Thing in Malaysia/Borneo: Leaving

The Best Thing in Malaysia/Borneo: friends and diving

A Reason To Return: Friends, diving and so much more.

Nepal

Nepal is a country I have always dreamed of going to and never thought I would. Most people go to trek, to get to base camp at the very least. For me, I wanted to buy myself a singing bowl. Since the first time I saw one of this beautiful bowls that “sing” as you pass a wooden stick around the outside, I have promised myself to only get one when I got to Nepal. It took me almost the full 3weeks to find the right one, but she sings just perrtty for me and I love it.

Nepal was fascinating and, unknown to me, would introduce me to someone who would change my life for good in many ways, but bring it crashing down with a terrible betrayal.

But you can’t blame a country for the actions of one person and so I focus on the people like Laksmi and her family who essentially adopted me in Pokhara. I went to dinner at their house, helped my new little brother, Gaurab, with his homework, even moved hotels closer to them (with Laksmi’s husband’s help). I spent many good hours chatting with Laksmi and I will miss my “sister” very much.

The Worst Thing in Nepal: The traffic and pollution

The Best Thing in Nepal: The people and the shopping and the history

A Reason to Return: The people, the shopping and the history

Germany

Cathleen, who I had met in my first country of Peru, and I had joked about me coming to Germany on my way home. Low and behold fate saw to it that I did. While I was super sad to leave Nepal, I was super excited to Cathleen again and well Germany in December means: Gluwein, Bratwurst, Christmas Markets and Christmas Cookies. Woohoo!

Cathleen met me in Hamburg with her amazing friend Hendrik, who put us up for a few days. Then came the whirlwind tour of Hamburg and Berlin with a final stop in Leipzig where Cathleen lived. Fate also allowed me to catch up with Carolin and Nadine, friends from Australia.

The Worst Thing in Germany: My heartsickness at missing a guy and ending a trip (not really Germany’s fault).

The Best Thing in Germany: Gluwein, bratwurst and Christmas markets… and fabulous friends.

A Reason to Go Back: need I repeat the above?? Oh and add the bakeries and the cold meats, mmmmmmm…..

Home

So after 347 days on the road, just shy of a full year, I finally made it home! For those of us who love long term travel, going home is both a blessing and a curse. We get our own bed, we see family, have home cooking, and 3 days later we want to pack our bags and head out again. As someone once explained to me, finally giving me an explanation I could use for non travelers, “traveling is a double edged sword…you live you grow you explore but you never feel settled”.

Starting my job as a vet nurse with a mobile vet barely 3 days after getting home at least helped that trapped feeling from catching a full hold. And being mobile kind of felt like I was still moving.

Ready to Monitor in Surgery

Something I learnt on This Trip: I am stronger than I look, and I love being near a warm ocean.

My Most Memorable Experience: Shaving my head for charity

My Worst Experience: Can’t say that anything was terrible, but let’s just say I learn a lot of lessons about life.

One thing is for sure, I prefer living abroad and plan to find work that gives me that. As much as I loved all the travel, there are times you want to stay put for longer than a month or 2.

So stick around and join me on upcoming adventures including Italy, Korea and Thailand…

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Germany, RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Exploring Hamburg!

2nd December 2011

Why Germany in Winter

Many people asked me with a shocked look on their faces why in the hell I was going to Germany in the winter. My response consisted of FOUR things:

1 – Christmas Cookies
2 – Christmas Markets
3 – Gluwein
4 – Bratwurst

No one really does Christmas like the Germans and I couldn’t wait to get into the holiday spirit. Although on numerous occasions this proved a little difficult as the mammoth realizations that I would soon be ending this odyssey and that I had developed feelings for a guy from Nepal, began to weigh heavily on me. I am not ashamed to admit that I cracked on more than one…. ok five occasions, but my amazing friends Cathleen and Nadine were always there to support me.

Hamburg a Little Jet Lagged

After nearly giving Cathleen a heart attack that first morning by popping my head up from the floor and saying good morning, we started to plan our day.

Side Note: I have a history of changing sleeping positions. Growing up my mum would go to wake me up and find my feet on the pillow instead of my head. And when I find a bed too soft or after traveling for a long time, I often find the floor more comfortable. Strange but true.

Hendrik and Cathleen had ensured that I had the best options for breakfast, with rolls and meats and cheese and German granola WITH chocolate chunks… I thought I was in a 5 star hotel. You guys were great!! Although it did take 2 Germans and a South African/American to figure out the fancy coffee machine… was probably made in Switzerland (that’s our excuse).

Despite the lack of sleep and ever increasing jet lag Cathleen and I went to explore Hamburg, as we would be leaving to Berlin in the morning.

NOTE, culture shock is inevitable when leaving the embodiment of chaos that is Kathmandu and Nepal and arriving in German perfection and planning. Everyone was wearing conservative winter clothes and here I was in multi colored sweat shirt and scarf from Nepal (mainly because I had chucked all my others to fit in the new). I was easy to mark as a tourist. Oh well I guess I have to play the tourist at least once.

We walked past a statue of Otto Von Bismarck, if I remember correctly. Cathleen was surprised I had studied him in high school.

Why yes… after a quick google search this is in fact the most well known of the statues of Otto Von Bismarck, the statesman who unified the German States into a German Empire in the late 1800’s

Heading to a famous church with beautiful architecture we not only discovered it had been rented out for a function, we also discovered a bit of a nutter in a santa suit with a gorgeous German Shepherd (would it be just a Shepherd if it was in Germany??) and a rather large “elf”. He was, apparently, protesting the function, although we couldn’t really understand him, but his 7ft tall “Elf” in the trench coat was certainly a bit intimidating.

Protesting “Santa” and his “Elf”


The statue outside the church

Tea please
Since it was downright frigid, ok maybe not quite, but close enough to it, we decided to have tea and Cathleen knew just the spot. It could have come out of Diagon Alley and some other story book, as the place was tiny and situated between 2 large buildings.

Entrance to the Alley

It turned out what I thought was the entrance to the tea shop, was in fact the entrance to a hidden alley that dated back to 1718. The little shops brought back visions of an era long past.

Alley

The tea shop was at the end of the alley filled with sweet and tea and curio shops. It literally oozed Christmas from the decorations to the smell. There was even a chimney with a twist… literally!

Twisted!

Hamburg used to be a hub of trade for spices, cloth and other goods. These were transported on boats in the canals and the old storehouses still line the river. Makes for quite a stunning view.

Old Storehouses Become Trendy Lofts

Noting the previous photo and how narrow the canal is will give you a new appreciation of the barge drivers who manipulate them between each section.

Barge Ballet

Knowing how much I loved cooking, Cathleen surprised me with a visit to the Spice Museum, apparently the only one of its kind. It had spices of every kind from all over the world and the aromas were quite intoxicating, if I may say so. The entry ticket was a packet of fresh whole pepper corns, (just emptied them into my grinder this evening).

Christmas Market #1

Wandering around Hamburg was quite delightful but finally it was time for my first Christmas Market. We were off to meet Hendrik and some friends for Gluwein. Even though it was around 3pm on a Friday, it looked as if every other person had the same idea.

Christmas Market – Hamburg

This also meant my first encounter with Christmas Cookies!

Cookiessssssssssss!

And of course GLUWEIN!!! Gluwein is a spiced red wine that is served hot and is very yummy.

Cathleen and I enjoying Gluwein

Unlike many countries where you buy a drink in a disposable cup, here in Germany you buy your drink and pay an extra 2euros for the ceramic cup unique to that market or city. If you decide not to keep the mug then you get your 2euros back, however, if you are like me, you decide to keep it and make a collection for every Christmas market you go to… of course the reality of getting them home will be something I deal with at a later date.

Gluwein Mug 1

German SIM Cards

Heading “home” we picked up supplies for me to cook dinner as a thank you to Hendrik for putting us up or putting up with us, either way, BIG THANKS!! I made the Schmidt Family Spaghetti Bolognaise, always a hit.

After dinner we started the complicated process of trying to figure out how to set up my SIM card. In Germany there is no such thing as slipping it in and switching it on, nope you have to register on a website and then wait a few hours before its even active. But finally we had success and right before bed I sent Buddha a quick text saying that I missed him and here was my German number. He had replies to my email saying I had arrived safely with a very sweet message about how he had gone to Monkey Temple and even though the monkeys were happy to see him, they apparently missed me, so he said hello for me. So sweet, its already starting to feel so unreal…

Tomorrow it is off to Berlin!

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Germany Bound!

1st December 2011

Security Checks Continue

So my route plan from Kathmandu to Hamburg was extensive: 8am flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi, 4hours layover, New Delhi to Milan, 4hours there, finally, Milan to Hamburg…

After leaving Nepal far behind, we disembarked in New Delhi, India. Quite a fancy airport and it even has sleeping “cocoons” that you can rent if you have a long layover.

Once again we were given bag tags to add to our ever growing collection, I think I will look like a traveling Christmas Tree by the time I am through all of these.

Bag Tag Decorations

Waiting in line I met Hannah, returning to the UK after volunteering in Nepal for a few months. Going through security check number 2 or 3 since arriving at the airport, we had to scan our bags. Her’s was pulled to the side and the good humored guards asked where the little pair of scissors were. She argued stating there were none, but when she unpacked it she found it in a little side pocket. There was much laughter. As mine went through I took out my little pair before they even had a chance to ask, dang it totally forgot about them till Hannah was arguing. We joked that they should open a used scissor shop after work. It was refreshing to find airport security with a sense of humor.

Money Exchanges… Or Not

I had ended up with 2500 Nepali Rupees, totally forgetting to change my money before I left (blaming lack of sleep and emotions). But was certain I could change it into Euros in New Delhi airport or at the very least change it into a currency that would be more workable once I got to Germany. As it turns out there were TWO major issues:

1) Past immigration and security no FOREIGNER could exchange money (only Indian Passport holders). Since transit meant I was already past security meant I had no hope of being able to do this.

It did occur to me to ask an Indian Passport holder to change it for me… until

2) They don’t take Nepali Rupees.

GO FIGURE!!! It was suggested that one of the Duty Free stores might take them, but after about 15 shops both Hannah and I realised there wasn’t much hope. Mmmmm guess it means I just have to go back to Nepal.

People Watching

People watching in airports is one of my favorite pastimes and this was no different. This brought a bemused giggle to my lips:

Reebok Monks

I can barely afford Reeboks and here are 2 monks buying a pair of stylish running shoes in the Duty Free Shop (which is usually twice as expensive).

Jet Airways continued

So far Jet Airways had been pretty decent and I hoped this would continue with the 11hour flight to Milan looming in my near future. After an hour delay it was time to board, then a further 30minute delay we were finally in the air. I was in the middle section on the aisle with an Indian mom and 2 boys. For the most part they were reasonably well behaved, but there was the occasional elbow in the ribs when they weren’t concentrating. Luckily Jet outdid themselves with individual entertainment units, great service and decent food. I think I even managed a bit of shut eye, which is rare for me unless I have a row to myself.

Arrival Milan Airport

Finally landing in Milan and feeling decidedly travel worn already, I wandered through the airport towards my gate, which was on the far end. On the way I thought it wise to draw some Euros, but at that precise moment could not remember if Italy used them or not. I asked at one of the duty free shops and after a bit of confusion with translation I got my question across and the fact that I was brain dead at that moment. We all laughed and they pointed me in the direction of an ATM. Of course it was all in Italian without the option of English (if there was one it was probably asking in Italian if you wanted English). Oh well, it was a good thought.

Went through another security check and finally found my gate, I literally think it was at the end of the airport. Another hour long delay so I decided to buy some internet time just to let all those who needed to know that I had made it this far.

The plane was almost empty and I just hung back to board up hoping to get a front row to sleep. Thank karma I did, the attendant too one look at me and didn’t argue, pointing me to the second row. I think I was out for the count before the plane even left the ground. I woke up just before we landed and before my eyes were even in focus the attendant was offering me the snack and juice I had missed at the beginning. I love good service and was very appreciative of this.

REUNION!

Germany was not just a country of random choosing like most of the others. At the very beginning of my trip, in my first country, I had met an awesome girl by the name of Cathleen in Aguas Calientes. You can read about that in my entry “Aguas Calientes Day 13”. We had always joked about me visiting her on my way home but never really thought I would get the chance to. Once I realised I was going to Nepal and would head home over Europe it just seemed like it was meant to be. Cathleen lived in Leipzig in the former Eastern side of Germany but had traveled to Hamburg to meet me. As I got off the plane and wandered through the non existent immigration check (still very strange to enter a new country without all that rigamarole and slightly annoying as I now don’t have a German stamp in my passport), I felt exhausted but was very excited to see my friend.

She was there with her friend Hendrik who lived in Hamburg. He had driven her to the airport which meant no dealing with public transport, he also gave up his bed for us. I was exhausted but still had many things going through my mind and still trying to fathom that my year of travel was only 2 weeks from an end. This would prove to be a difficult idea to wrap my head around in the weeks to come.

But for now, there was a new country to explore and a great friend to catch up with.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow….

1st December 2011

Farewells

I have never been very good at goodbyes, you would think after so many I would be better at it. But alas, I shall always be an emotional person.

We decided Buddha would not come to the airport with me as I was leaving at 6.20am and was sharing a taxi with Namiko, the Japanese girl from the night before. However, he did carry my bags down and into the car. It wasn’t a very emotional goodbye with us hanging onto each other, I think we were both in shock that our time was over. So with a hug and a kiss and tears just barely welling in my eyes I drove off into the sunrise towards the airport with him watching after me.

I have had holiday romances before and always I am a complete wreck when I leave. This time seemed a little different, a little calmer, I just felt deeply sad but there was a glimmer of hope that we would meet again. Like something was meant to be…maybe…or is that just my girlish dreams infiltrating my practical brain?

Airport Security… Nepal Style

Before getting far in the taxi we had a flat or needed to inflate the tire, not sure as there was so much incense burning IN the cab that I was in a daze!

Finally arriving in plenty of time we went to enter the airport, it was all very confusing as we were not permitted to enter until a certain amount of time before our flight. So joining the mulling masses we hung around outside for a further 10minutes. Then it was security check 1, there would be many more to follow.

Warning Soppy Moment: Standing in line I sent a text to Buddha telling him to sleep well. He replied with “I am sleeping but think of you and dream I am flying”. I wish he was flying with me.

At the baggage counter my fear of having my checked bag overweight was soon alleviated as it was 6KG under. However, in my zealous attempts to achieve just this my carry on was 6KG over. The guy suggested I transfer items, but I feared an explosion if I attempted to unzip either bag as they were packed to the brim. I have a slight shopping in developing countries habit. The guy kind of winked and let me off without having to pay a fee. But then, he followed me as I walked away from check in asking for a tip… I guess thats one way of putting it. Except for two 1000 rupees (which was a little much I thought), I only had a 20 rupee. He wasn’t overly impressed at my backpacker generosity but took it and walked off in disgust.

Namiko was still in line for check in and I hung around waiting for her. Unfortunately, with time ticking away to under an hour for my flight I said cheers and hoped we would meet in Delhi on our mutual layovers. Just as well I did, because the road blocks, starting with entry to the airport, along the way were numerous.

Security 2 – As I attempted to go up the escalated the guard asked to see airline tags on my bags, turned out I needed one on EVERY form of bag, except myself… You didn’t need to write anything it just needed the tag.

Security 3 – Men and women were separated into 2 lines, this is one of the few times being in the ladies line is to your benefit. Bags were scanned as we walked thru a scanner, and then bags were searched. This is when bag tags are stamped.

Soppy Moment Warning: While I waited I called Buddha, normally nothing wakes him up, but he answered and we said we missed each other. He told me to call before I took off.

Security 4 – yup you guessed it, apparently going from lounge to plane on the tarmac there is a chance of picking something contraband up. We had to have our bags searched again right at the foot of the stairs to the plane and be patted down.

Finally on the plane I was waiting for the flight attendants to ask to search our bags again before giving us a snack at take off. Even in the states I have never gone through so many check points. I think I had collected about 2 bag tags for each bag at this point.

Soppy Moment Warning: As requested I called him one last time before take off. He wished me safe travel and said he missed me already. I am really not sure how I feel, as mentioned most boys left me in a wreck when I left them, but feel strangely calm this time and can’t quite figure out why…

As the plane left Kathmandu and I watched the mountains disappear in the mist… smog… I realized that Nepal was everything and yet nothing I expected it to be. From the insanity of Kathmandu to the tranquility of Nagakot, from the food to the markets to the friendly, kind nature of the Nepali people, to the guy who has part of my heart. This has been one of my most pivotal stops… one that will, ultimately, change my life completely…

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Last Day….

30th November 2011

The Dilemma of Laundry

Yesterday we didn’t do much as we were both quite exhausted from the trip. But since I was leaving soon I needed to get some laundry done. Also, since Buddha had been crashing at the hotel and not been home to his mother’s for over a week, we did his laundry too. I put in a rush order for his and paid the extra, due to the fact that he was stuck in his room with just the sheet… His would be done by 10am. However, the Nepali power company had other ideas and promptly switched off the power for 4hrs.. We had no idea when he would be able to make an appearance and he did threaten at one point to come down toga style.

In the meant time I ran some errands and had the cook, Robin, taught me how to make the amazing potato hashbrowns I had become addicted to every morning. I would order the expensive, $3, breakfast just to get the potatoes. Turned out it was tumeric that was the secret. I took some up to Buddha so he could at least eat something while secluded in his prison.

Around 2pm the laundry appeared much to our relief. Yogi, the hotel owner, took us across the road to a clothing factory where he knew the owner. I picked up a jacket, skirt and some funky harem pants. That afternoon we went back to visit Buddha’s friend and owner of the Facebook restaurant and had momo’s and tea. Then Buddha met up with Yogi to go to a Tourism Conference and I returned to packing and sorting… I think I will need to buy another bag!

My Last Day…

It feels like I have been here for so long and now it is my last day. For those of you who hadn’t guessed by now, Buddha and I had become very close in these 3weeks and our friendship had grown into something a bit more… It will be very hard to leave!

But until the moment actually comes, there are errands to run, bags to pack and one more trip to monkey temple.

We made a run to the mall to pick up a few more DVD’s for Buddha and he noticed a guy doing henna tattoos. He remembered that I had had one when I arrived from Malaysia and that I had mentioned I wanted to get another done before I left (sometimes it amazes me that he remembers these things). So encouraged me to get one done and haggled with the guy till he gave me a decent price.

Henna

Choices

Errand 1

I had bought a tapestry the day before and had bargained the guy to a decent price, but upon return to the room I realised there was a flaw.

The FLAW…

I didn’t feel like dealing with the guy on my own so had asked Buddha to come with me. While we waited for him I noticed a bag I might need to pack all my stuff, it was a backpack with wheels and cost around $35, not too shabby. We decided to first have me pack and see if I really needed it.

Finally the guy showed up and after some haggling realised that there was nothing much he could do as there wasn’t another of that size and the one that was there had a bigger flaw. I decided I could fix it as it was awfully perrty.

Errand 2

Spice shopping with Robin, the cook at Hotel Silver Home. I particularly wanted the spice he used for his hashbrown like fried potatoes. It took a bit of a search but we eventually found it and also some different kinds of masala for curry.

Spices!

Errand 3

After the spices the plan was to go meet a friend of Buddha’s from the ship whose sister owned a pashmina store. Now, after weeks of him prank calling me (one of his favorite past times), he had been trying to reach me for real as his friend was waiting and I was off exploring the land of spices… cooking that is. When I got back he had got a little exasperated (which is not a lot in most people’s books as he is so laid back). But we weren’t too late and we were soon our way off to meet up with him. The factory was on the same property as a very imperssive house. However, it cracks me up how houses are built, as often you end up blocking light and views of your neighbors.

Their house is the white one on the right

I was fairly certain I could pick up some pashmina cheap cheap having an inside contact, I was thinking maybe $10, $15 max… Ummmm yeah not so much.

They owned a factory who had a deal with Rolex, every time someone bought a watch they got a pashmina, so you can imagine the quality. It was fabulous, felt like cloth water and the cheapest price was $35 for a small one. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on something I would never wear (most likely out of fear of ruining it). Please note they did offer me a fantastic discount, but being at the end of my budget I just couldn’t. The joys of a backpacker budget…

Errand 4

Finally it was time to say farewell to the monkeys and temple who had brought Buddha and I together. It was bitter sweet walking through the temple knowing I may never be back to feed them again. I even recognized a few and I swear there was some recognition back, at least that is what I am going with, it might have had something to do with the cookies. I will really miss the dogs there, I definitely knew a lot of them and was on the verge of naming a few.

Buddha’s friends joined us and so we were able to get some pictures, I think putting them up is the best way to show you all:

Troop 1

Pack 1

My Favorite in Pack 1

This Day Buddha got on Film

Mobbed by his fans, Buddha stays Cool and Collected

This Little Guy Figured Out the Source

He Was Quite Content to Stay as Long as the Cookie Supply Lasted

Moments Before He had a Cookie in Each Hand and THREE in His Mouth

A Moment to Treasure

Soon the Monkey on my Shoulder Discovered the Cookie Source

The Monkey Whisperer???

No Words…

Here is a short video of Buddha feeding his minions and the temple. I will miss these outings more than I can say!

Finally we had to leave and return to the hotel as we had dinner plans. First I popped over and bought a yak wool blanket and some of the cheaper (not pure) pashminas and the extra bag. Then we headed to the tongba place for dinner and one last round. On the way we stopped at one of the street side snack vendors. they have tubs of popcorn, peanuts, corn nut like things etc and dish them into a little paper cone for you to enjoy. I had never had any as you fear for your stomach, but Buddha has a way of showing me new things, and I wish I had got this yummies from the first day and trusted my African constitution to stand by me.

Snack Vendor

Namiko from Japan joined us along with Yogi and Raj. It was a great night, and I am going to miss the boys all terribly.

Buddha, Yogi and Raj

The Crew

And so back to the hotel, up the four flights of stairs for the last night. It is bitter sweet and I can’t believe this section is over, that I will be leaving some amazing people and that my journey is just one country from its end…

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Bhaktapur – An Ancient Town

28th November 2011

Leaving the stunning Langtan and Himalaya Mountain Range behind we returned to Alpine Sherpa Cottages to have breakfast and pack.

The drive back had us pass through an army unit doing training runs and maneuvers, they did not look too impressed at having to be out running at that time of the morning.

Trying to Sneak a Pic from the Bike

We also past some houses in the process of being built, if “built” is what you could call it. Using bamboo to hold up sections and to align bricks, it was the kind of set up that would building inspectors from the States heart palpitations at the mere thought of it.

Back at the cottages we ordered some tea and within seconds Steve the dog was there. Buddha immediately poured half his tea into the saucer and went off to find him some sort of cookies to eat. I ordered some breakfast and poured half my tea into the saucer for Steve. Buddha returned shortly and started dishing out cookies for Steve, who also got to lick our plates. Once he realised there was nothing more, he trotted off without so much as a backwards glance. I almost felt used, at least Bob sat and waited for us and showed true dedication. Oh well, some strays are just a little fickle I guess.

Good Old Steve!

Just before we left a little boy ran up selling postcards and hand made hats. I couldn’t resist.

It was a stunning day and I was going to miss our little cottage. The views were spectacular as we climbed on board the bike and headed out of Nagakot and on to Bhaktapur.

“Bhaktapur is an ancient Newar town in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. It is located in Bhaktapur District in the Bagmati Zone. It is the third largest city in Kathmandu valley and was once the capital of Nepal during the great Malla Kingdom until the second half of the 15th century.
Bhaktapur is listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork.”

Courtesy of: Wikipedia

It was a beautiful day to drive to Bhaktapur with the sun shining brightly. Half way down the mountain Buddha decided he was a little peckish and suggested we stop to eat. Considering I had just eaten breakfast I wasn’t too fussed but figured what the heck. We past a few decent looking snack shacks, but he chose one that had “local” written all over it. Something I really enjoy about being with him is that he always chooses the place that tourists would avoid and usually has the best yummies. In this case it was some Nepali tea and some cake like things. After about an hour we neared Bhaktapur. There is around a $15 charge for all foreigners to enter, this is to help in the preservation of the city. Buddha had me cover my head with my scarf and had no problem going through. Turns out they weren’t even checking folks that day. I didn’t feel bad about avoiding the entrance fee as I planned to spend money within the city itself.

Within seconds of entering I was overwhelmed at the beauty of the architecture. This was everything that Kathmandu wasn’t. I got quite irritated that Buddha wouldn’t stop as he was determined to find the city square. But when he did I was glad for it and the only way to explain the history that oozed from every doorway is to show you in pictures:





The Lower Part of the Carving Shows Childbirth


It wasn’t just the history that was beautiful, it was the people and day to day life:

Carrying the Days’ Load

One of my Favorites

A Tight Squeeze

Spinning

We ended the day with some lunch and then drove back to the chaos of Kathmandu. A fantastic 2 days, I wish I had known of these places earlier as I would have liked to spend more time there. Oh well guess I have to come back then…

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Nagakot….and meeting Steve

27th November 2011

Trip to Nagakot

Buddha was taking me to a town just outside of Kathmandu, by the name of Nagakot. He used to come camping in this area as a kid, and it was known for its great views of the sunrise and set. We headed out after a lazy morning and afternoon, around 3.30pm. Apparently it was “very close”, but it took almost an hour and half. About 45min into the trip along a country road we hit a kid… or rather the kid hit us. We were going along on the far side of the road and the kid was walking hand in hand with an older girl. All of a sudden this kid just darts across the road (has a possible future in sprint) and slams into my knee… I know ridiculous, if he had been a second faster he would have been hit by the bike, instead he ricocheted off my knee and fell on his butt. Thank heavens Buddha is a good driver as he managed to stop the bike without us falling over. The kid bounced up and ran crying to a group of old men who seemed none too concerned, they waved at us with an expression that perhaps meant “no worries he does this all the time”. If I could feel anything below my right knee I might have hopped off to see if he was ok, but at present I think I was the one with more damage. Once we saw the kid get up and walk away we knew he was ok and headed off again, my knee throbbing with every mile. He sure had a hard head that’s for sure.

What with falling off the bike yesterday and bruising my right leg and now being hit by a kid in the right knee, I was a little on the shaken side. However, the beauty of the scenery started to distract me and I couldn’t help think to myself that this is what I had expected to see more of when I bought my flight to Kathmandu.

Missed Sunset

We had been told that the sun set after 5pm, but by 4.45pm it was a solid red ball and sinking fast. Since my knee was throbbing I motioned for Buddha to pull over, it took me a few seconds to descend and limped around to get my bag and camera. But in those few minutes the sun was down and gone before I could take a picture. Buddha acted a bit sheepish for putting off our departure. But no worries, just means the early morning sunrise was a go.

Nagakot was set high up on a hill and the road involved many curves and driving round and round to get to the top. Buddha had said to look for a place that might be good to stay at, but ignored every one of my suggestions. It was getting quite annoying until he pulled up to this place called Sherpa Alpine Cottages. It was perfect, individual cottages overlooking the valley. Just what I had been thinking of, sometimes I think he can read my mind. We were lucky as they had 1 available.

The Outside


The Inside

We dumped our bags and headed back into town by foot to look for somewhere to eat. We had to borrow a flashlight as there were no streetlights, just the beautiful stars. This felt much the same as the search for accommodation, I would point at a place and Buddha would frown and say “Nah!”. Eventually we opted for cozy looking place and sat down on elevated platforms and ordered some hot chocolates. When they were brought to us, the guy told Buddha that nothing was prepared and dinner would take a long time. So we decided to just have the drink and play the dot game. It seemed so strange that a place would actually tell guests that, all I can think is that the staff wanted to head home early.

Playing the Dot Game, It was a little chilly that evening

But it all worked out in the end. We walked back to the hostel where the staff there were entertaining everyone with music. It made for a great evening and good food. I taught Buddha a new card game and he instantly became addicted to it. Dinner was momos for me and fried rice for him.

Evening Entertainment

The Meeting of Steve

While we were enjoying dinner and card games another couple came in followed by a black and white dog. Turned out it was a village dog and had adopted them. After dinner as we all headed outside the dog, I named him Steve, decided he would choose us for the evening. He must have known that Buddha had a soft spot for dogs. We got to the cottage and Buddha immediately ushered him in, he looked around, curled up and went to sleep. Buddha took the towel provided and laid it on him as a blanket. It was rather cute, but guess that means we’re not using the towel.

Steve!


Buddha making sure Steve is comfy

The cottage provided one of the singularly beautiful sights, a view of the stars, don’t think I have seen them that bright in a very long time. It would be an early morning so that we could catch the sunrise. so with Steve snoring us to sleep, we called it a night.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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