Thursday, November 29, 2012

Quick pics of last few days

Water is at a premium for drinking

For my drummer friends

A old pond from the 14th century

Full moon night and Jupiter

A big buddha in one of the many monastaries

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting stupa'd again

We're back in Boudha for the full moon celebration. Lots of butter lamps are being lit around the big stupa, and people are doing their circumnavigations with purpose.

The bus rides to Bhaktapur and back went well (aside from being charged double what we've heard the fare should be). We got a taxi from the stop at Chabahil to the Hotel Ngudrup, as we were completely disoriented and didn't know what direction to go.  So while the GPS  on the phone was still finding satellites, a taxi driver pulled along aside us for the easiest solution.

Now we'll have a day to explore the area.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


We managed to navigate the local buses from Boudhanath to Ratna park, and even get on the right bus to Bhaktapur. It helps that Ciel can pronounce Bhaktapur (unlike Dhaulagiri or Nagarkot). We met Steph, who we first saw in Sinuwa up by ABC, and shared the bus ride with her.

Now we're in the Peacock guesthouse with its very low ceilings - I wonder how long we can go before we bonk our heads. We spent far too much on lunch at the Peacock restaurant just across the square, but made up for it by buying a huge bag of oranges and bananas down the street for 100 rupees.

Now it's time to start exploring!


Monday, November 26, 2012


We didn't get very far today - just to the big Stupa at Boudhanath. It's a big one! Lots of Tibetans walking around it (clockwise of course - usually three times).
There are more beggars on the streets here too. Maybe people feel more generous here?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

KEEP - an important NGO for mtn workers in Nepal

 The Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP) is a must for people coming to Nepal.

Check it out:

We dropped off the boots I used for trekking and some other useful items to the Porter Clothing Bank today.  

If I had a chance to volunteer with this program I would, but because it's not possible now, we support it financially.

Please consider their work in helping ensure sustainable and social conscious tourism in Nepal.

We saw many examples where trekking companies and tourists seemed ill informed.

This fellow we saw on the trail was a porter that survived an avalanche but lost his limbs due to exposure.  This is something that I hope can be avoided for people working in the mtns with the help of KEEP.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

KTM and Patan Friends

We made it to Thanksgiving Brunch and sure enough, no turkey and no dal bhat.  Waffles with maple syrup, sweet potato pie and other goodies, although I didn't sample much except for tastes of fruit and drinking sprite.   I must of ate a rotten egg on the bus trip back to KTM the day before (I think), so I had a nasty first night, but today I feel much better.  Just grateful I was sick instead of Mark because I think it's easier than taking care of him!

Although I wasn't feeling all that great later in the day, we made an effort to get out and meet some friends we met along the trail (at Landruk) at their old stomping grounds at Patan Square.  They all went to the University that is located nearby here, so I guess their story was that they hung out before and after classes always.  It was cool to be there after all the other tourists cleared out and feel the different energy instead of watching tourists poke big cameras at local faces.  

Three of the group are engineers so Mark speaks the same language and the other is a very intelligent woman who I think said she has a degree in economics.  She hates nepali bathrooms too!  I hope we get to see them again because it's an inside view of young people's perspective of their home country.  They make fun of each other's cultures and each other and we had a lot of fun.  I even got to dress my hair up and I immediately felt better!.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Why there are no turkeys?

We lucked out and get to stay at Benchen Vihar, a monastery guest house.  It's usually peaceful but there is a 10 day lama dance going on so it's chants, trumpets, horns,  drums and cymbals making coordinated song to the powers.  Today is the 10th day I was told.
I am already experiencing the urbanfactor of KTM and feeling ill with the nausea so it's good to have a retreat.  Driving in from the countryside is a big adjustment, but then it's really not a whole lot different than seeing  the skyline of Seattle, I'm just not used to it. 

The big difference is the poverty and filth and it seems like a lot of the locals don't think this can change.  When a person is struggling day to day to support themselves it is difficult to do much else for the community.  Especially when people are from all sorts of places and backgrounds. I think this might be a problem back home in the USA too- we really should watch out for each other and take better care of our home- Planet Earth, for all humans. My task here is to not compare Nepal where I grew up and practice acceptance, patience and a sense of humour.  I really have no idea sometimes what is going on here!

I still haven't found out why there are no Turkeys in Nepal.  It's my latest bewonderment of this country.  Happy Thanksgiving, there is so much to be grateful for...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Never End Peace and Love

Hate Plastic Bags

View from Tolka

We like Annapurna South

Mark likes Nepali Kittens

Dashain swing in all the towns

Japanese tourists am sunrise

Keep Climbing Mtns and Don't Slip!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why walk when we can watch volleyball?

Championship games coming up but we do need to walk because we want to go to Australian Camp tonight. 

We watched the semi-final between Dhampus and Tolka, we rooted for Tolka who I think were the underdogs because Dhampus had some really tall guys.  Talk about serious.  Best of 5 games so we pretty much watched the entire afternoon away. 

The entire town seemed to turn out and I only saw one woman comtinuing to cut millet, with her husband eventually joining her in the work.  Volleyball is pretty popular in the hill villages because there isn't a lot of flat land for any other sport. 

Tolka would be an awesome town for an international tournament.  The hospitality of the locals and the backdrop of south annapurna in magnificant.

Time to walk. Tolka lost and now Dhampus is going to play Chomrong.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dal Bhat time

Once again we're eating Nepal's national dish - Dal Bhat (rice with lentil stew and curry, spinach, and spicy pickle). It varies quite a bit from place to place, sometimes excellent, sometimes not so good. This time we're lucky!

- mark.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ghandruk Holiday

It's such a beautiful day after days of late morning and cloudy days we chose to spend the day here watching the mtns and hanging out wirh the locals. 

Like anywhere we start wirh a little Nepali and they speak to us like we can understand.  Then we say "asi" (a little) and we all laugh.  Mark has much better pronounciation than me.  My name sounds like the Nepali word for Jackal which like elsewhere is a good comversation starter. 
We celebrated Tihar and Mark got tikka-ed as all brothers do on that day by their sister. 

We listened to a lot of singing and saw dancing to celebrate Tihar. Like a combination of trick'n treat (the performers collect food and mostly money donations for charity projects) xmas (families come together), and New Year (some drink too much) celebration.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why walk when we can eat cake?

Chomrong where we are right now didn't have any lodges 25 years ago and now the tourists are the primary income. 1/4 of Nepal's 29 million people live on $1.25 a day.  Here on the Annapurna tracks the average annual income per capita is $2500.00 per year.  25 years ago a tourist could travel on 3 rupees/day.  Now we spend about 1500 rupees/day. No camping in caves where there used to be a hotel, there are hotels easy distance apart...  today we will eventually walk but we are in no hurry visiting with a couple from Slovakia.  Now Slovakia is on our list to cycle and climb and we will host them when they travel to N. America.  One of my favorite couples we've met.  They travel and travel and work when they must.  So actually we'll have to visit where ever they are which is probably not Slovokia!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


ABC dog follows trekkers from the lowland villages and makes trekkers happy while they huff and puff up and down the steps.  We first saw this dog sleeping on one of hundreds of steps going into Doban, relaxing in the shade of a Rhody tree.  The next time we saw it was up at the top of the trail two days later hunting picas in the grass at Annapurna Base Camp.  Italians we were with had seen the dog lower down too and we were all thrilled to have this independent dog accompany us while asleep at night.  It appreciated the warmer room and the sit pad I gave it to curl up on.  I miss the doxies but they couldn't do the stairs or cold! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Porno Anna

Here we are under the first of the 8000m peaks to be climbed - Annapurna. It has a success rate half that of Everest, and triple the fatality rate. It's very nice to look at in the morning sun, though.  Ciel was up early and took in the waning moonlight on the mountain with the stars shining brightly above.

Now we're in Sinuwa - we tried to make it all the way back to Chomrong, but it started to rain and darkness threatened to beat us there. The lodge here has a nice comfy double bed and a hot gas shower. The milk tea is good too.

- mark.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Alto Himal

Here we are in the high mountains again. The picture shows Machhapuchhre towering over the Modi Khola valley, which we will follow up to Annapurna Base Camp.

The other day at Tolka we stopped for lunch at a nice woman's restaurant, and saw a falcon swoop down and pick off one of her chicks. After that she put the rest of the chicks in their cage - they didn't argue, they wanted back in quick!

Cherry trees are in bloom here, even though it's autumn.

Today we took it easy - soaked in the hot spring below Jhinu before climbing the stone steps up to Chomrong.

We're still at relatively low altitude - 2170m - but by the time we get to ABC we add another 2000m. A couple of Danish girls we met said they had a hard time sleeping up there because of the cold and altitude. Glad we brought our warm sleeping bags!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Going to the Mtns

We are headed to the mtns after feeling much better.  We've had a great time in Pokara and expect to be back in several weeks.  We plan to be with friends in Kathmandu for Thanksgiving to give gratitude for all that we have.  Or at least that's our plan.  We'll see if the universe is in agreement with that when the time comes. 

Doing her civic duty

Ciel figured out how to vote electronically - hopefully this download, fill out, scan, email procedure works. You'd think a secure web server would be possible, saving such a hassle.