Saturday, July 26, 2014

Some Little Things

Sometimes I sit and India doesn't seem so bad. Other times I wonder what hell hole I've found myself in. Regardless, I want to remember some of the little things.

Like the way cigarette smoke would waft through the screen door, a sure sign the neighbors were home.

How the dust film on the white mosquito net would billow out, making me feel like I was in a bubble about to pop.

The sound of screeching bats and barking dogs at 3:00 am.

The feel of cold water washing away the sweat and humidity.

Dancing in the monsoon, how stepping out into the drenching downpour was like being submerged in a pool. Instantly wet, cold at first and then warm.

The bells and chants as devout worshippers gather at the Krishna temple at 5:00 am.

Ear splitting, earth shattering thunder and strobe light lightning rolling continuously. Like some round of the gods.

India is definitely an interesting place. New and odd, sometimes completely illogical or bizarre. But I think that tonight I like it. Simply because I can sit surrounded by different.

On a completely different note, I've recently started art journaling. My dear friend Jenna and I are doing it together. At first I thought I would just write, and then I discovered that I love to art journal. It is inspiring and heart opening and diverting. And, I didn't know I could actually... draw things. Here are two of my favorites so far.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Last bits about Nepal (or the one with 800 pictures)

So back to our Nepal trip!

On day 4 of our Journey we woke up early, at some good breakfast and headed out to Changu Narayan. It is a small town just... outside (no idea about which direction) Kathmandu. Our taxi driver was awesome and took us up to the little town just outside the hindu temple.

Stephen and I walked the tiny streets, marveled at the ducklings and chicks all over the streets and enjoyed the old temple. Stephen, being himself, made friends with the only two people there and ended up playing ping pong. Followed by a soccer (futball) game with the village children. I can't take him anywhere without him making friends. It is a joy to watch.

Rice Paddies

By the by, Stephen lost the ping pong match.

The small street leading to the Temple

After visiting the village and the temple, we started our hike. The entire time we hiked through tiny villages filled with children, dogs, goats, baby goats (cutest things ever), chickens and ducks. The people were kind enough to point out the trail to us when it was a little iffy. The kids were always adorable and smiling, happy to see us. The nepalese are a beautiful people. The scenery was stunning. It was soul-refreshing to be out in nature, surrounded by trees, damp earth, sunshine and quiet.

Three generations, all captured on a hill in the mountains.

The trek was broken into two parts. The first part was up and over one mountain, and down into a valley. And then we climbed 8,000 stairs. No joke. So many stairs. The picture right above, that was the beginning of the stairs. They went on for another eternity. I would rather climb multiple mountains than do those stairs again.

Near the end of our hike, the clouds started coming in. I would call it a mist, but we were so high that we were
literally inside the clouds. We were above 6,200 feet.

Our hotel was called Hotel at the End of the Universe. It felt like a fitting name, because it was at the tip toppest part of the mountain, up another hundred stairs. It was beautiful and quaint. The staff were adorable and kind. The dogs were friendly and the views were magnificent.

Our room was in this cabin. There were only two rooms and one bathroom. The room was so quaint!

That night, after dinner, the staff and hotel guests (there were only three others. Three middle aged Koreans who were really enjoying their red wine) all came together and played music and danced. Stephen was an honorary drummer in the little band. We had a blast enjoying the music. There was even a big didergydoo that they played. At one point, they were doing a call and answer song together that was just beautiful.

The next morning we woke up just before 5:00 am so that we could watch the sunrise and catch a glimpse of everest. Unfortunately, we were very much in a cloud. So we just went back to bed and woke up a few hours later. We ate a good breakfast and then headed back down.

We trekked up 14 miles and down 15 miles. We actually went down to a different town entirely. What we didn't know was that most of it would be walking Nepalese highway, passing many of their military posts and being passed by a lot of cars. But it was nice to see all the different towns and villages. And we only had once incident with a crazy man who grabbed me. (I fondly refer to him as the Nepalese Groper. He laughed like a madman, and groped like one too.)

When we arrived in the town we wandered around until we came across this wonderful business man who called a taxi for us. We talked with the man for a good while. He owned a butcher shop, and had three children. One of them is studying in California. Our taxi didn't show up, so he had one of his friends drive us back to Kathmandu for even cheaper than a taxi, in a very nice car. (The taxis were truly terrifying.)

The uh..."Sunrise"

This sweet dog followed us for miles as we walked. She was super friendly and adorable,

We were definitely glad to finally get back to our hotel, and then head off to get a thai massage. Which felt lovely after hiking and walking 30 miles in two days. We spent our last day wandering around Thamel market, shopping and finished off the whole night eating at the best restaurant in the whole wide world.

The Royal Penguin is actually a hotel. With a restaurant. The restaurant had this crazy furniture, and a quirky ambiance. You could choose how sociable you wanted the staff to be, and you could request your country flag to sit on your table, a large stuffed animal to sit at your table, and a board game to play while waiting for your (amazing!!!) food.

It was probably the most fun I have ever had at dinner. They served Stephen's toast in a small shopping cart. Seriously. I highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Nepal.

Stephen really likes this panda....
And the next day we went home. We spent the entire day traveling, and we were sad to leave. I think we all agreed it would be a lot better to be in Nepal than India... The trip was a once in a lifetime, beautiful, crazy experience. I'm so glad we went!