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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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Hot Stones = Heaven

23rd November 2011

Seeking Divine Advice

Another late morning meant a lunch time meeting. This time Buddha suggested a rather rich fried cheese with cashews in a sauce and roti. Delicious but super super rich.

Yogi, Hotel Silver Home’s owner, had decided he wanted to get the advice of a fortune teller and so we all set off in a rickshaw. However, since the rickshaw is made for 2 people it meant Buddha sat on our laps, it was all rather amusing and I was tempted to ask why he was on top… but they had been gentlemen and helped me into the rickshaw first…

The rickshaw ride didn’t last long as it turned out the fortune teller had moved out of the area and so we planned to switch to a cab. But first we popped into a curtain shop. Yogi is planning on redoing a lot of the out of date furnishings. He of course straight for the really impractical style, one that would show the dirt, had threads that would pull easily etc.. I pointed these out, sometimes women are just better at these things. He got the idea and started leaning towards a more practical design. But we will see what eventually gets chosen in a few weeks

Then into the cab, it drove us out to the middle of nowhere. Walking between half built houses with no idea how the guys seemed to know where they were heading. We entered a building, went up the stairs and discovered a hundred shoes littered outside a single door. This must be the place!!

Unfortunately, there would also be a longgggggg wait. Yogi decided to come by another time. And we wandered out towards the main road to find our way home. I was still feeling rather under the weather and Buddha, seeing that, said I should go for a massage.

Hot Stones!!!!

Back in the Thamel area, Buddha drove me to the same place where we had sat in the sauna, and proceeded to negotiate a good price for me to have a hot stone massage. I got an hour for $22. Then, to the amusement of the staff, announced that I was ticklish.

Within a short time, I found myself naked and wrapped in a towel lying face down on a table. The room was L-shaped and lying there I heard a voice that was decidedly male. The other masseuse was a guy and was giving the woman perpendicular to me, an ayuvedic massage. It sounded painful.

At first I felt a little unnerved with a guy working on someone else just a few feet away from my fancy… but the minute the hot stones started their magic, I didn’t give a damn! My masseuse was a sweet girl and she was amazing.

The combination of calming music, heated massage oil, hot stones and someone working all the kinks out from toe to head… is about as close to heaven as a traveler can get. After getting a good once over, I stumbled to the sauna and sat there for a bit. I was on the verge of slipping into unconsciousness and called, as instructed, for Buddha to pick me up. Unfortunately they were still busy and so I wandered back home through the streets, picked up a few cards, bought a bag and made some notes.

Scammers

Yogi had seemed a little out of sorts that whole day. It turned out that a guest had taken the wrong key and had “stolen” something from one of the other guests. But there was no way to prove any of it, only an irrate guest claiming an ipod was missing. He insisted on being reimbursed. It did not make it a good day for Yogi.

It also explained why a staff member nearly gave me a heart attack at midnight by banging on my door. In his panic to find the guest who had the wrong key he got the door number wrong and hammered on mine instead. Oops…

For obvious reasons Yogi didn’t feel like being social and Raj had business so Buddha and I had dinner in a little place round the corner. We ate chowmein, fried buffalo momos, chicken noodle soup and 2 friend eggs. There was so much food we could barely finish it.

Massage, good friend, good food… good day

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Final Day in Pokhara

17th November 2011

Taekwondo at Sunrise

I started my last day in Pokhara by waking up at 5.45am and meeting Garaub so he could take me to watch his taekwondo class. He was so excited that I was finally coming to watch. About 9 kids were there already and started doing warm ups with 2 of the higher belts leading the way. A few minutes later the master showed up. He seemed a little nervous to see me and apologised profusely for not having his uniform on, but that he hadn’t known I would be coming that morning. Then he made me stand in front of the class and introduced me, making all 9 kids bow to me. It has been such a long time since I have been involved with taekwondo and it felt really good. For those of you who don’t know, I lived in Seoul, Korea for 3yrs and earned my 2nd degree black belt while I was there. It is a sport that is still very close to my heart, as it taught me lot of confidence and so much more.

I stood and watched the kids trying not to fall asleep (too many movies the night before), they were doing great and the master tried his best to teach the whole class in English for my benefit, and occasionally to the confusion of some of the kids. The highlight of the class was when he had a couple of the kids show off their sparring skills. He has some good potential in that class. He was a very humble man and tried his best to do good by the kids, by day he would take tourists across the lake and some other side jobs. He was very interested in my opinion of his teaching and seemed pleased when I said it was a great class. We took some photos and as we walked he asked if it was possible to help out with buying some equipment. I said I would try but couldn’t make any promises. As Garaub and I walked home for some tea, Garaub asked me what the master asked me for, he was rather embarressed that he had wanted something and insisted that I did not have to buy anything, it was kind of sweet to see him so indignant, repeating that I was like a sister and did not take me to the class to try get me to provide financial aid. If possible I will help, but it is unlikely as the equipment would need to be bought in Kathmandu and then somehow sent by bus to Pokhara with no guarantee of arriving.

Taekwondo Class – Garaub is 2nd from the right in the front

Bacon Roasty

After tea with Laxmi I headed for a nap as it was barely 7am. Then headed to Fewa Restaurant for my regular breakfast and blog time. I decided to try their Bacon Roasty with cheesy hashbrowns, on Roger’s (who was here a year ago) recommendation. It was delicious, wish I had discovered it earlier. It was also very rich and so made sure I at least finished the important part…BACON!! Somewhere in the back of my mind there is concern about ordering meat in developing countries, but then when it comes down to it, sometimes its worth the risk for the taste!

After breakfast I picked up a few last minute things and then headed back to the hotel to pack and sort. Returning to Laxmi’s I bought another top and a few other smaller items and then helped her adjust the hem of one of the pants I bought.

Laxmi sister

Back at the hotel I met a couple from Australia, both of them engineers working on a project for Engineers Without Borders. They were about to head out on their motorbike to do some touring. I gave them some advice from the places I had been the day before and we decided to meet for dinner later that evening.

For lunch I met Gaurab and Laxmi and headed to the Tibetan restaurant for momo’s. I wanted to treat them to something as thanks for adopting me and treating me like family, when mine was so far away. They were both so excited as I don’t think they get to go out that often. They both ordered banana lassi’s, a selection of momo’s and I had a lemon soda (fresh lemon juice with soda water, my new favorite).

Laxmi, Gaurab and me at Tibetan Restaurant

Afterwards I gave Gaurab a hug in farewell, he got a little emotional but seemed to listen to me when I made him promise to study hard and listen to his mother. I think he had got attached and used to having me around, I will miss my little brother and his wonderful mother, my sister.

World Politics

Had a glorious hot shower, scrubbed down, shaved and chilled out a bit. Hearing voices outside I went to investigate and discovered one of the Aussie engineers chatting with a guy from Luxemburg. We quickly fell into a discussion about world politics, Africa, China and much more. There is something to be said about the ease at which world travelers fall into conversation with each other and discuss things bigger than themselves and yet we all seem to see the answers, and they seem so simple.

All this talk of saving the world made us hungry so the engineers and I headed to the Tibetan restaurant for momos. Oh so yummy. The conversations morphed into life experiences, jobs and travel adventures, one of my favorite things to do when I meet like minded folks.

Early to bed as there was another grueling bus trip starting at 6am. My friend Buddha promised to meet me at the bus in Kathmandu and take me out to dinner. Pokhara has been great but I am really hoping to the sun in Kathmandu…


The Closest to Sunshine in 5 days

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Annapurna what??

14th November 2012

Pokhara day 3

I woke up to another grey miserable day. If I didn’t know better I would think I was back in Eugene, Oregon where we have about 9mths of grey weather with occasional sun spots. Everyone keeps telling me how amazing the mountain views are, and how paragliding here would be a once in a life time blah blah blah…. Most times I can’t even see across the lake, apparently there is a Stupa that is visible…apparently. Not that I am unhappy enjoying all the sites and sounds of Nepali life, it is truly amazing and I am already developing regular haunts and getting to know people, not to mention being “adopted” by a local family. But lack of sun has a way of making you feel tired and unmotivated.
Mountains? What mountains??!!??

Mountains?? What Mountains??!!???

My days revolve around eating and sleeping and shopping and at this rate I am going to run out of money as there are wayyyyyy to many good things to eat and buy. This afternoon I was stopped by a lady claiming to have walked from Tibet when she was a child, to have about 6 kids and selling jewelry to get by. I told her perhaps on my way back… dang it all if she didn’t keep a watch out for me and catch me as I attempted to buy some small oranges from a guy I had walked past about 10 times. She got me arm in arm and walked me across the street tut tutting at how I had overpaid for the fruit. Then began a very animated and rather enjoyable bargaining session. Her stuff wasn’t the best quality and there wasn’t much that jumped out at me, but it was so much fun I couldn’t help but pick out a couple of things, even if the price was too high. If you are going to be hoodwinked you may as well enjoy it!!

Tibetan food

A friend/writing guru/occasional shrink of mine recommended I go to a local Tibetan restaurant and try their momos. He had stayed in Pokhara for an extended period of time about a year prior while he was traveling and writing and so knew a lot of good places. The momos were AMAZING!!!! They were lightly fried too, which makes everything better. I knew this would become a regular lunch spot for me. I only wish I had taken a picture but the it tasted so good I forgot as I stuffed them in one after the other, attempting not to dip them too enthusiastically into the rather spicy sauce, already experience the after effects of that…

Full Moon!!

After a bit of a nap and some chill out time, all you can really do in weather like this, I headed over to Laxmi’s for dinner. I helped Gaudal (am sure I have a couple of versions for the spelling of his name, I keep hoping one of them is right) with his homework. Then he took me over to a local restaurant that has a nightly cultural dance show. We hovered behind some bushes until the door man asked us if we needed a table, for about the 5th time. He kept looking over at us and so we eventually headed off back to dinner.

As we were walking I looked up to see a tourist couple in front of me, the father their kid on his shoulders. I nearly fell over laughing when I was faced with a very white, very full moon! The kids shorts had slipped during loading onto shoulders and was showing the world his rear. I was giggling but managed to tap the couple on the shoulder. The wife was mortified but amused, the father I think would have stripped with the kid saying its all about freedom. We fell in to chatting and discovered they were from Dresden, one of the cities I would visit in Germany. We planned to meet up the next morning for breakfast. I still get a giggle when I think of that full moon!

Mmmm the power of Dal Baht!!!

Once again Laxmi cooked an outstanding dinner, I am sure eating with your hands had something to do with it. She is an amazing cook and makes it with just enough spice now not to kill me, which I am sure is barely a pinch compared to what they are used to. Then off to bed for sleep.

Contemplation

There is something about this country that makes one stop and think. I feel completely at peace at times but the very next minute agitated. Am sure its all the emotions of this past year and the knowledge that after 1 more country, 1 more month, it will all come to an end. The constant calming sounds of Buddhist chants make one want to sit in the lotus position and simply BE… but unfortunately that only lasts so long, guess then the thinking starts, and its way to dangerous to let that happen…


A Daily Scene in Pokhara

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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