Well, it seems like we have everything in order for our trek. Our bags arrived yesterday, thanks to the Virgin staff in Delhi and Arjun Chhatkuli, the owner of our trekking company Himalayan Humanity Trekking. He was our contact person for Virgin and Sahara Airlines (who flew us from Delhi to Kathmandu) so we could go explore the Kathmandu area. I don’t what would have happened without him because we talked to a Finish girl yesterday who had been waiting for over a week now.
To avoid further damage the Air Canada transfer desk in London might have caused us, I decided to call Gulf Air, our airline who’ll fly us into London, to make sure our tickets are ok. Well, it turned out Air Canada didn’t only cancel our flights on Gulf Air from London to Kathmandu, but also our return tickets. So I’ve spend the whole day correcting their mistake by phoning faxing and finally sitting in a cue for over an hour so Gulf Air could re-confirm my tickets. Un-be-lie-va-ble. I’m not a person why gets mad easily but I’m ready to sue at this point.
So we’re back in our Zen mind now that we’ve got our trip back on trek. Tomorrow we’re going on a 7 hour busride to the trailhead in Besi-Sahar. From there we will start our 16 day trek around the Annapurna Circuit. We’ve spend the last two days sightseeing with one of our porter-guides Rajar and a guide called Taranath. If you ever go to Kathmandu, drop Arjun an email because the experience wouldn’t be the same without some of the great legends, history and relious stories Taranath told us. You also don’t have to worry about how to get anywhere and they’ll tell you what you can and can’t do. We usually don’t travel using guides but in this case it was worth it.
So we visited Budnath, the largest Buddhist Stupa of Nepal, Pashupati, the largest Hindu Shiva temple on the Indian sub-continent, along a holy river where they cremate their deceased. A very strange experience to witness. Monkey running around everywhere, bodies burning, ashes being swept into the river (Watch Video) while 100 meters downstream people are bathing in the same water. A very surreal experience.
Our last stop yesterday was the town of Patan, the old capital of Nepal with another Dunbar square with the old royal palace and temples. Another beautifull place to visit. The artwork on the temples is of a very hight quality. The drive to Patan was another experience by itself. We had to go through an alley that must have been no more then 8 feet wide (2.5 meters). We were following an army truck with military in the back, guns leasurly hanging out the back pointing straight at us (Watch Movie Clip). There were bikes, pedestrains and oncoming traffic. I still don’t know how we all managed to get through there. I’ve observed that there are two two rules in Nepal. 1) Drive on the left side of the road. 2) Don’t hit anybody. That’s it. For the rest, it’s a complete free for all on roads with potholes the size of bathtubs. You honk once to make sure people know you’re coming. You honk twice when you’re passing or turning. If it’s a potential dangerous move, you increase the number of honks. It’s bizare but I haven seen a single accident (knock, knock) or any form of road rage. People respect everybody, but they won’t give anybody the right of way, even the 80 year old woman who was standing in the middle of a 4 lane highway waiting to cross the other two lanes.
So today we’re taking a rest day and tomorrow we’re off. I probably won’t be online for a while so (family) don’t panic when you don’t see anything from me.
In front of the Stupa
Patan; Dunbar Square
Patan; Temple Art Detail
This city is awesome. While we’re waiting for our bags (they “might” arrive tommorrow) we took our guides and went on a tour today. We were supposed to take a car but we couldn’t because of a general strike (things are dicy politically here, we even walked into a demonstration today). They took us to Dunbar Square and a large stupa with a difficult name also known as the monkey temple (I forgot to bring my journal to the internetcafe). We had a great time. Because we had to walk so much, it gave us a great view of the daily life in Kathmandu. Everything happens on the street so there so much to see, do and smell, it’s an overload of experiences and we’re trying to take it all in as best as we can.
Sheri dinging the bells at a Hindi temple
Lunch with our guides
A typical vendor in Kathmandu
Stoopa, also known as monkey temple
Sheri with two monks
A monkey on the monkey temple
We’ve made it! We arrived yesterday at 3:00pm, only a few hours after our original plan, so it turned out ok after all. Arjun, the operator of our trekking company picked us up from the airport. Him and his associates are all very nice people. We’ve met our guides today and they’re also very nice. It was weird driving from the airport to our Hotel. They drive on the left side of the road and traffic is crazy. Sheri saw her first monkey running across the street in front of the car. Kathmandu is beautifull, chaotic and a whole different world. We love it. We’re going shopping next because there’s no sign of our bags yet. That also means we have to wait to start our trek. That’s ok because we have plenty of time. But Virgin, who are working on it, told me this morning that they haven’t received any word from Air Canada yet. This is the last time I’ve used Air Canada I think.
Arjun, his guides and porters.
Morning in Kathmandu
So we’re in Delhi, India right now. We flew Virgin Atlantic and it was amazing. Service, food, entertainment, awesome. When we got here, there was somebody waiting for us to help us out becasue we don’t have a Visa for India. He took care of everything, including our bags. They’re still in London but he’s completely on the case. What a difference with Air Canada, they left us completely in the dark. And wait for the MealMe picture from the food on the plane. Unreal!
We’e now in London. Eight hours late. First our plane had a mechanical problem and then the second plane also neded repairs. after that, our crew had to be replaced. They gave us $15 for meat sanwiches. Now we’re on standby for a flight to Delhi and have a connection to Kathmndu. So who knows, we might go trekking in London instead of Nepal. The bright side off all this is that I get to use internet terminals all over the world. This one sucks. We feel pretty discusting but whatever, WE’RE ON VACATION!
We’ve started our journey to Nepal today. I’m typing this in the terminal of the Vancouver Airport. We’re off the Toronto first, then London, the Abu Dabi, then Kathmandu. Seems like a recipe for disaster. Our original itinerary got messed up when Air Canada changed some flights and our travel agent had to scramble to make it all work. Whatever, I’m on vacation.
Mauritio and Caterina, thank you so much for driving us to the airport.