Saturday, April 30, 2005


Up about 8:00 to the sound of rain drops falling. Bugger. Went to have a shower, but there was no water. Bugger. It was cloudy and rainy this morning, and I was praying it would clear by noon.

Sat around and read, while they pumped water into the big water tanks on top of the roof. About 10:00, showered in cool water. Bugger.

Headed over to Sunrise Paragliding abou 11:15 to see if it was a go, but I already knew the answer. They looked skeptical, but said come back about 12:30, we'll see what the weather is doing, as the rain had stopped and it looked like it might start clearing.

Went back at 12:30, and the answer. NO. Bugger. They rebooked me for tomorrow at noon.

I decided to rent a scooter and go up to the International Mountain Museum. It cost me 250 rupees for the day to rent the scooter, and if I wanted it for 24 hours, it would be 30 rupees. I bargained with him, on count of the weather, if it rained this afternoon, and I kept the bike tomorrow morning, I could keep it until noon for 250 rupees. I asked the guy if I needed to worry about being stopped at the army and police checkpoints, as I didn't have an International Drivers License. Le laughed a hearty laugh, and said no probelm, I don't look like a Maoist.

Drove my bike back to the hotel and got directions to the museum from the guest house dude and headed off in the rain (it had started raining again...bugger). Found my way without any problems, as I just had to follow the signs to the museum. 300 rupees for foreigners to get into the museum. It was a very good museum, I spent about 2.5 hours there. Lots of stuff about the 14 8000+ metre mountains in the world (8 of those are in Nepal), the rest elsewhere in the Himalaya's. And they had information and pictures of the first ascents of each of the 14 peaks, including quotes from the climbers. Another section on the different hill tribes that inhabit Nepal. Another section on the myth (or is it?) of Yeti, and lots of other mountain related things. The museum is set on a vast expanse of land, and the building itself is huge, very modern looking.

On the way back, it was still raining (bugger), and I ran out of petrol along the way (BUGGER!). It happened right in the middle of an army checkpoint, so I asked one of the army dudes where the nearest petrol station was, and he pointed down the street, and sure enough, not more than 50 metres away, was a petrol station. I got off and pushed the bike to the station and put two litres in. (124 rupees, about $2.15CDN). Continued on back to Lakeside, and got lost (bugger), but eventually found my way. I knew I was going in the right general directions. Made it back about 5:00.

There are tons if Israeli's here...tons. Half of the backpackers are Israeli's. And not too many people like them. The lady who sold us our jackets last night, she was saying she hates dealing with the Israeli's. I've heard that some of the tea houses (guest houses) on the Annapurna Circuit have signs over saying "No Israeli's". I remember when I travelled in 2003, hearing stories about Israeli's, and they being rather unwelcome...they can be very loud and obnoxious, especially when they get together in large groups. They are typically very easy to spot, they have large, wild hair, almost afro-like.

About 6:00, headed to the internet, and as I was walking past Sunrise Paragliding, they recognized me and called me in. They had screwed up, and already had bookings for tomorrow and didn't realize it, so I got pushed to Monday. Bugger!!!!! Monday, I think, will be my last chance. If I can't do in Monday, I'll probably pass, as I think I'll head back to Kathmandu on Tuesday.

Wayne and I headed for supper about 7:00. As we were deciding on where to go for supper, we looked north, and we could clearly see the mountains in the dim dusk light. Clear as anything, the rain all day had passed, and took with it all the clouds and mist and haze. We decided that we would head up to Sarangkot tomorrow morning, if it was sunny tomorrow morning, and see the range.

We ate at a restaurant showing "The Final Cut" (or "The Last Cut", I forget), starring Robin Williams, a bizarre story set in the future, where people can have a recorder chip implanted in their unborn child's brain, and from the moment of birth, the chip records everything that person sees, says, hears, etc. for their entire life. When the person dies, a "cutter" does a final cut of a movie that shows that person how family and friends want him to be remembered. I liked it, though.

Back to the hotel and to bed about 9:45.

Friday, April 29, 2005


Up about 9:00, slept well, but still so tired. Laid on top of my bed for half an hour, then finally got semi-mobile.

Wayne and I went for breakfast about 10:00, then back to lodge.

Read in the garden for a while. There was a guy from Italy and a girl from Calgary in the garden as well, she was doing Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) with him (he was the guide), they were leaving on the bus later today, and start hiking tomorrow.

Very hot and humid in the late morning and early afternoon. About 12:30, the storm clouds started building up, and thunder could be heard in the distance. About 1:30, the rain started, and it continued all afternoon. The rain would stop and just spit for periods. At one of those periods, about 3:00, I headed to the internet, and as I was checking e-mails, the power went out. My computer and the modem were on UPS power, so I was able to finish my e-mailing, but left the journal entries.

Got back to my room and read, then the power came back, and headed to the internet about 5:00 and updated journal.

The rain stopped in early evening, but the storm really put a chill into the air. Jacket and long pants were a must. Lots of (women) tourists were walking around bundled in blankets for the evening.

About 6:30, Wayne and I went shopping for "brand name" jackets. I wanted something warm and windproof for my flight tomorrow. The North Face, L.L. Bean, Columbia, etc., you can get them all here, cheap. I got a Goretex, waterproof L.L. Bean jacket, with lining, for 1900 rupees (about $30CDN). Of course, they're not the real thing, probably not even Goretex, but they look nice, and you can't really complain about the price.

Then we headed for supper, to the Moondance Restaurant, Canadian-Nepali management, for supper, then to another restaurant for a drink.

Got to bed about 9:45.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

2 Short Treks - and my knee feels it!

Was up at 5:45 to meet Shaun and Steph to go up to Sarangkot (2000 metre hill near Pokhara) to see the Annapurna range before the clouds and haze come in. That's the idea anyway. We got a taxi to the top, and caught glimpses of a few peaks from the taxi ride, but by the time we got to the top (taxi plus a 20-30 minute hike), clouds/haze obscured everything. We stayed at the top for a bit, but hiked all the way back down to the townsite (long way!) When we got back, we stopped at a restaurant for breakfast, then back to my room about 11:00am. I had to shower, I was dripping in sweat.

Pokhara is nice, but I probably won't hang around for too long. There's nothing here to keep my interest. The waterfall is dried up, the bat cave sucks (so I've been told from Shaun and Steph) and the views are obscured, and there's really not too many people here.

I used the internet and tried my Mastercard at a bank worked fine. Potential disaster averted!

About 1:30, Wayne and I walked up to the World Peace Pagoda, atop a big hill on the other side of the lake. We walked around the near end of the lake then up the hill to get there, and it was tough going! We missed a turn, and ended up making our own trails for a lot of the way, before we finally found the real trail. The pagoda is very nice, huge, erected in 2001. As you can find anywhere, there are a few canteens up there, so we stayed and had a drink and talked to a couple of old locals who live up on the hill. They grow marijuana (among other things), and they were trying to offer some to us. As we were talking, we looked north and lo-and-behold...snow covered peaks were starting to emerge from the clouds! Slowly, the clouds were blowing off, revealing a number of peaks, and some fairly impressive views. The haze in the air still didn't give amazing views, but still, it was nice. I think I got some good pics, but the camera didn't seem to be able to pick up the faint colour variations really good...I guess I'll see when I get them back to my computer. Also, it was late in the day, so the sun wasn't in a good position to show much.

Instead of hiking all the way back down and around the lake, Wayne and I decided to hike right down the lake and take a boat back across the lake to Pokhara.

Another guy, Simon, from Switzerland, showed up, sweat beads on his forehead. He was the spitting image of Darren. As he approached, I would've swore it was my little brother. Same hair (colour/style), same nose, eyes, glasses (!), he moved the same, same facial expressions, same lips...same everything. It was bizarre. We invited him to come back down with us and share the cost of the he popped over the pagoda for 10 minutes or so, then came back and we all headed down. My feet felt like they were going to fall off, after all the hiking today. I don't know why this was so different then any of the treks I've done, but my legs and feet were tired to the bone, and my left knee was back to it's old tricks...much paining on the way down.

It was a quick jaunt down, and we got a paddle boat (170 rupees, with three paddlers...only two at a time) on this little wooden boat. Simon was hanging on pretty good, I think he thought the thing would tip over.

Wayne, Simon and me went to a restaurant showing "7 Years In Tibet" for supper at 7:00. Excellent movie. I'd never seen it. Simon left midway through (after eating) because he's in the process of reading that same book right now. I thought it was a movie about an American going to Tibet and becoming "enlightened" and turning to Buddhism...I had no idea it was the story of Tibet (and the Chinese occupation after WWII).

After supper/movie, we went to see if we could find Shaun and Steph, but they were not to be found, so we went back to the hotel and to bed about 9:45.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Off to Pokhara

Up at 6:00, showered and walked to the bus stop and found my bus. One of the guys climbed up on the roof of the bus and I handed him my backpack, then another guy told me I had to pay, a "tip" for the guy putting my backpack onto the roof. That was not unexpected at all. I asked how much, he said 20 rupees. A British guy standing behind him, overheard, and indicated to me to only pay 10 rupees, so I gave the guy 10 rupees and told him 10 was enough. He chuckled and said ok. I went over and thanked the guy (Wayne). Had a cup of chai from local sitting by the bus selling cups of chai to tourists. He had a little propane burner, a handful of glasses, and the ingredients to make chai, and sold cups of chai to locals and tourists for 10 rupees per cup. He was making a killing!

Bus left at 7:00, I was sitting beside a British girl, Michelle. The bus stopped a couple of times, once for breakfast, another for lunch, along the way. Close to Pokhara, we had brief glimpses of some of the peaks of the Himalaya's, but most of the time, they were obscured by clouds and haze. Pokhara is situated on lake, and I'm not entirely sure why, but both Wayne and I had visions of a lake surrounded by flat, barren landscape. Driving into Pokhara, we realized how wrong we were.

We got to Pokhara about 2:00, and me, Michelle and Wayne got a taxi to the Butterfly Lodge. The main backpackers section of the Pokhara is a street that runs along the lake front, with shops and restaurants and lodges, with a scattering of tourists and locals. The lake (and city) is surrounded by green, tree-filled hills, very nice setting, with the Annapurna range in easy viewing distance (when it's clear). The highest peak in the Annapurna range is just over 8000 metres, and the Annapurna Circuit as well as the Annapurna Base Camp are two very popular treks with tourists.

It's a lot more humid here than it was in Kathmandu.

Wayne and I walked around town and to the lakefront. You can rent paddle boats at the lakefront to go across the lake or to an island temple, or to just explore. We stopped off at Sunrise Paragliding (, where I booked a 1-1.5 hour paragliding flight for Saturday (they were all booked up Thursday and Friday). It was $120US. After seeing it, I think Wayne was convinced that he is going to do it as well.

We then walked north of town, along the road, and stopped at a restaurant on a bluff overlooking the lake. Nice views of Pokhara. Incidentally, Pokhara is a campground...apparently a lot of overlanders, presumably from Europe, come through from campers. There were a few campers there today, I should have went and checked the license plates. I can't see it being locals, as I've never seen a camper or a trailer in any Asian country, that I can recall. And campgrounds are rare.

On the way back to town, an old lady carrying a load of wood on her head, asked us if we wanted to buy any marijuana.

We ran into Shaun and Steph (from rafting), and we made tentative plans to meet up later in the evening.

Going back to the lodge, an older Tibetan man, super friendly and nice, convinced me to look at his wares he had spread out on a blanket. Like a sucker, I bought from him, and another girl. They are from a Tibetan refugee camp just outside of Pokhara, and they invited me to come to their refugee camp one day and have Tibetan tea. It would be interesting, but I'm sure I'd get more sales pitches while there!

About 6:30, Michelle and Wayne and I went for supper at an outside restaurant by the lake. They had live local Nepali dance and music (which wasn't very good, actually). I had a steak, and it didn't taste really like beef...I suspect it was water buffalo. It wasn't bad, just different tasting.

Pokhara is nice, laid pack, not very many tourists. I hear tourism is way down here.

Had a good rainshower about 3:30, then it was nice all evening.

Ran into Shaun and Steph after supper and all five of us went to Club Amsterdam, a lounge and restaurant for a drink or two.

To bed about 10:30.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Nothingness Day

Up about 9:00, showered and went for the breakfast buffet at the Kathmandu Guest House.

Booked a bus to Pokhara for tomorrow, 350 rupees.

There was a girl staying across from me, Helen, British I think. When I originally got to the Kathamandu Guest House, she was in that room, and then I left for rafting, and when I got back, she was still in that room. I was chatting with her, and she just was spending 6 weeks in Nepal, and in those 6 weeks, did both the Everest Base Camp and the Langtang circuit. On a previous trip, she did the Annapurna circuit. Those three of the three main trekking circuits that trekkers do in Nepal. I've decided that I'm going to do all three (in future trips).

Used the internet, then walked to where my bus leaves tomorrow morning, so that I know how to get there and how long it will take me. It's not a long distance, I can walk it. No one bothers you outside of Thamel...locals just go about their business, indifferent to tourists.

When I got back to the Kathmandu Guest House, they told me I have to change rooms, because they want to renovate the room I was in. They moved me two rooms over, same priced room, but it's tiny. Oh well. It's only one night.

Read in the courtyard most of the afternoon.

About 6:00, went to the Roadhouse Cafe again, I recalled they had cream of chicken soup on the menu, and I was craving that. Also got a club sandwich. Neither was particularly good...they should stick with pizza.

Back to my room, packed and went down to pay. I wanted to pay with credit card, but their machine wouldn't recognize either of my credit cards (Visa and Mastercard). I ended up cashing in a travellers cheque. I think their machine was busted or he wasn't doing it right. Afterwards I got thinking, what if all my magnetic cards got wiped out somehow? That would suck. I guess I'll find out in due course.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Got me a new watch!

Up about 7:30ish, took some laundry in and went for breakfast, then used internet for a long time. About 11:30ish, went walking through Thamel in search of a watch. I knew I would probably pay a premium in Thamel, though. Of all the shopping available in Thamel, none of the shops sell watches! I expanded my search to some non-touristy, local streets around Thamel, and found a shop that had a bunch of wathces in the window. I went inside, and there were two women and a man sitting down, with another man behind a low counter, sitting cross-legged, fixing watches. I said "Namaste" (a greeting in Nepalese language), he said Namaste to me, and I told him I'd like to see some of the watches. I pointed out a few that looked intersting to me, and he picked them out of his window and let me look them over. I picked one out, and asked how much. I was expecting to have to bargain hard to get a decent price, and he said 200 rupees. Only 200 rupees??? What a letdown! That's less than $4 CDN. I gave the man the money was on on my way. I'm watch enabled again! YAY!

Back to the hotel, and read in the courtyard until about 3:00. I was tired as heck, and went upstairs to my room and listened to music as I laid on my bed, then climbed into bed to try and rest for a bit. Then my phone rang. It was Sabine, I had sent her an e-mail yesterday telling her I was back. Her boyfriend, Mike, was here visiting her (for a few weeks), and they ended up coming over to my guest house for a while, and we sat in the courtyard and chatted. He is from Canada as well, Vancouver.

They left about 6:30, we made plans to meet at G's Terrace at 9:00, they were supposed to have a live band (the same band they had a couple of weeks ago).

I headed to the Roadhouse Cafe. I wasn't too sure of the place, it's very western and modern, but the name was too close to "Roadkill Cafe" for my liking! I had a pepperoni and ham pizza, as they specialize in pizza's.

Met Sabine and Mike at G's Terrace at 9:00, but the band wasn't playing tonight. They were supposed to meet two other Canadians and a German fellow at G's also. The German fellow came around and told us they were at the Rum Doodle Bar and Restaurant. Sabine and Mike ate, then the three of us headed over to the Rum Doodle. We stayed there until shortly after 11:00, then headed to bed.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Rafting Expedition - Day 12

I must've slept good...I remember trying to find a comfortable sleeping position on the bus, I remember finding one after moving and twisting and readjusting myself. I remember waking up a few times to make small adjustments to my sleep. Then the next thing I knew, the bus started up and we were moving. It was 4:00am already (when the ckeckpoints open up). We went through, on our merry way.

Abot 6:30, we stopped in a town for an oil change and lube job on the bus. While that was taking place, we had chai.

We made it to Chitwan National Park about 9:30 and dropped Will off.

We made it back to Kathmandu about 3:00, the bus went to the companies storeroom to unload everything, and they got me a prepaid taxi back to Thamel. I got back to the Kathmandu Guest House about 3:40, and inquired about an $8 room. He said they only had one $8 room left, but it was being held for a reservation, but the reservation was late. He asked me to wait 15 or 20 minutes and if they didn't show, he would give me the room.

I went over to Ultimate Descents to get my stuff (big backpack and valuables) and got back to the guest house, and they still hadn't showed, and he gave me the room. It was the room next to the one I had last time, only this one is MUCH bigger. When I was at Ultimate Descents, they informed me that Shaun and Steph didn't make it back yesterday...their flight was to leave at 6:00pm yesterday, but the flight got cancelled because of the storm. They didn't get back to Kathmandu until about 11:00 today.

I had a shower to get all the sand and grime off of me, and then shaved of 12 days of facial hair (a difficult job with a razor) and used internet quickly.

I had a steak for supper at the Bodega restaurant. Ok, but nothing to write home about (...which is just what I'm doing).

About 5:30, a thunderstorm rolled in and it started raining.

About 8:00ish, went to the internet and used it for quite a while, updating my journal. Finished with internet about 9:30, then went back to the hotel and crashed.

The last 12 days went so fast....some of the fastest days of my life. Seriously, it only seemed like 3 or 4 days I was away. I simply cannot believe I was away from civilization for 12 days, it just doesn't seem like it was that long. I enjoyed every minute of the trip, and am so glad I did it.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Rafting Expedition - Day 11

Up at 6:00, I think. Tea/coffee , breakfast. I didn't have much of an appetite, the local beer/whisky combo still making my tummy funny. The kids were at the beach by 4:30, Steph says, she was up at that time, unable to sleep anymore. When we got up, all the kids (10 or so) sat on a huge boulder and just watched us all morning.

Rafted down the Sun Khosi river for a bit, and stopped at an important temple, a Hindu temple, I believe. It's supposed to be the most important Hindu temple complex in Nepal for a certain group of Hindu's, and they must all make the journey to here at least once in their lives.

At the temple, there is a rock. It's not a particularly large rock, maybe 15-20cm long, and maybe 10-15cm in diameter. Apparently if you can lift the rock and walk around the shrine carrying the rock, you'll have good luck or some such thing. But the rock is decievingly heavy. It weighs 80 or 90 kilograms. I was first, I tried to lift it, and got it as far as my waist, but couldn't hoist it up any further and dropped it. Shawn tried, and he barely got it off the ground. Will gave it a try, and he got as far as I did. struggling. After I rested a minute or two, I tried again, got it as far as my waist, then grunted and yelled as I jerked it up to my chest, where I was able to hold it in my arms. Wow, the rock was heavy! It must be made of iron or some very heavy metal. I did proceed to walk around the shrine once (the shrine isn't big, maybe 8 feet by 8 feet), but by the time I made one revolution, I was pooped, and dropped the rock (but only after Will took a picture of me). But, I did it! Then Shaun gave it a try. He managed to get it to the chest, and made one revolution, and he was done. Will, the oldest of the bunch, 52, got it up, and walked around once, then one of the guides said "Two more times.", so Will proceeded to make two more walks around the shrine with the rock. Impressive. Two locals, seeing what we had done, gave it a try...they could barely lift it off the ground, let alone walk around with it. It was pretty funny.

We had chai at the temple, then walked back to the rafts.

We continued on the Sun Khosi river, mostly flat, but a few parts had some awesomely big waves that we careened over. It was fun. We turned one last bend on the Sun Khosi, and absolutely nothing lay before us. This was the end, the Sun Khosi was opening up to flow through the Terai (flat bit) and eventually meet up with the Ganges. As we turned the last bend in the foothills, it literally looked like the edge of the earth ahead of us...we could see nothing on the horizon. We paddled on for a short bit, then landed near a big dam, where the bus was waiting for us. We packed everythign onto the bus (including the rafts, after being deflated) and left. This was about noonish. We had lunch at a little place in the village nearby, then drove south to the city where the airport is, and dropped Shaun and Steph off at the airport, and left for Kathmandu.

The rest of us drove into the night as long as we could. We ran into an unbelievable storm on the highway. You should have seen the lightshow in the air. I thought storms in Saskatchewan were amazing. This was 100 times better. Imagine Saskatchewan's best thunderstorm, and multiply it many times over. Storm cells reached from horizon to horizon to horizon to horizon, and the flashes of lightning were so frequent, they lit up the night sky constantly. I love thunderstorms, and this was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my entire lifetime. The lightning flashes were so frequent, it was almost indescribable. The best comparison I can come up with is during the Gulf War. Remember the footage of the nighttime air raids the allies were making on Baghdad, and the Iraqi army shooting off thousands of rounds of anti-aircraft fire into the night sky, the night sky lighting up constanly flashing. It was kind of like that, but better. The rain was pouring down, the bus had no windshield wipers, but that didn't deter the bus driver. He just slowed down, but kept on truckin'. And the windows leaked. It was fun.

Shortly before 9:00, we hit an army checkpoint that was close for the night, the barrier tied across the road so no one could pass. Looked like we'd be sleeping here for the night. Oh well. We'd be first in line to get through the checkpoint when it opens up. There was no sign of any activity. Everyone found a seat on the bus and went to bed. Abotu 15 minutes later, a horde of army personnel showed up, with machine guns and flashlights, checking us out. The guides talked to them through the windows, but they were sure interested in the bus (and what was inside). They kept walking around, shining flashlights inside every window to see inside. They were probably being extra cautious, concerned it may be a Maoist bomb bus or a bunch of Maoist rebels inside planning a night ambush on the army checkpoint. Finally they were happy that we were just rafters, and they left.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Rafting Expedition - Day 10

Up about 6:00, tea/coffe ad breakky, broke camp and started rafting about 9:30.

WOWSERS, some amazing rapids today! All day long, they came, unrelenting! It was superb!

Mani told us the water was low this time of year. The best time is October and November, after monsoons, water levels are much higher, creating significantly better whitewater, with huge drops, whirlpools, faster, better rapids. 2nd week in October is the best time for the Tamur river. The 1st or 2nd week of September for the Karnali river.

We stopped for lunch about 12:30. We had an old village lady visit us, she had a huge gold nose ring, bedecked with gems. It's common for the older ladies in the villages to have these big nose rings, signifies age.

All day long, Shaun and I were conspiring to push each other in the water. We didn't trust each other. Mani told us we could latch the ends of the paddles together and then balance on either edge of the raft, leaning backwards towards the water. Like a balance, we would hold each other up. We gave it a go, and as we were balancing, Mani knocked the paddles apart, and we both went crashing into the water. Mani got a BIG kick out of that one...he got us good there.

At one point, at one rapids, Mani got us wedged between two rocks, stuck in a moment of time. After lots of jumping, and all of sitting in the bow of the boat, water barreling all over us, hopeing to work ourselves free, Mani climbed to the back of the boat and grabbed a rope attached to the stern. He brought the end of the rope back to the front, and indicated to me that we were going to start pulling on the rope and flip the raft over, end-over-end, to get was the only way. I just blurted out..."You can't be serious!", and I guess the look on my face was indescribale. Steph started howling, because of the look on my face. Ends up, Man was just playing me, we were going to yank on the rope to work ourselves free. It was a hilarious episode, trying to work ourselves free, it took us about 10 minutes. The other rafts and the kayakers cheered when I finallly got ourselves free.

Near the end of the Tamur river was an amazing canyon, then the Tamur dumps into the Sun Khosi river, significantly bigger than the Tamur, and much dirtier (muddy, debris (vegetation) floating down it).

Awwww, it's almost over! None of us wanted it to be over, we were all having so much fun.

We found a nice campsite on the Sun Khosi. A bunch of locals descended on us (mostly kids), and some of the adults them brought some local rice whisky and beer. I had a little bit of each, the local whisky tasted much like the local whisky we had in other parts of SE Asia, but the local beers was ungodly horrible. I didn't drink much, but enough to make my stomach churn, and I lost my appetite.

Went to bed about 9:30.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rafting Expedition - Day 9

Up about 6:00, I think. Had tea/coffee, breakfast, all the usual bit, and started out about 9:00.

As we were carrying the raft from the beach back down to the waters edge this morning, we were going across lots of rocks. I was in my bare feet, and I jammed my foot...and smashed my toe against a rock...the same toe that I smashed up in Thailand two years fresh that memory seemed at that moment. It bled for a bit, and was tender all day, but by late afternooon, it was almost as good as new.

Some decent rapids today, with bits of flat water.

Around noon, wind kicked up again, making it hard

Had lunch around 1:00ish.

Kept going, and found civilization around 3:30ish, where we made it to the only highway bridge to cross over the Tamur. We drove across this bridge on the bus on our way up to the trekking point. It sucked to see it, after 7:00 days of being back in time.

Found a campsite about 4:00, and made camp.

Rafting takes a toll on you after a number of days. Butt cheeks were sore, shoulders were sore, it can be physically exhausting, but it's totallly worth it.

We had some sort of pasta thing for supper and apple crumble for dessert. The apple crumble was amazing. It was the first time Mani had made apple crumble on the river.

To bed about 9:00.

This must be a wonderland for kids. An infinite backyard of trees to climb, rocky cliffs to scale across, rivers to swim in, big rocks to jump off of into the river.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Rafting Expedition - Day 8

Up about 7:15...slept great!

Breakfast was pancakes with an awesome honey-lemon sauce - honey, lemon, water and brown sugar...I think it would be great to marinade chicken in it.

Started rafting about 9:15. Slow rafting, not that many big rapids and lots of flat. We didn't have to wear helmets for most of the day.

I got pushed in the water twice. The first time, Steph splashed Picass, one of the kayakers, and in his attempts to splash her back, he was getting me. I stood up and turned around and started helping Picass splash Steph, and before I knew it, someone was pushing me in the water. I found out later it was Will and Shaun, they conspired together to push me in. Later on, I was sitting on the raft, minding me own business, Shawn was sitting on the bow, and when I had my head turned, he simply poked me in the chest with his paddle, and over I went, a complete backwards somersault into the water. I got my revenge on both Will and Shaun later on.

We stopped for lunch about 1:00, I suppose.

The wind picked up about 11:00 am, upstream. It came in gusts.

Some of the best valley landscapes I've seen so far.

Thunderstorm clouds threatened about 3:00, so we started looking for camp, and found a good camp about 3:45.

Storm clouds circled and put on an awesome light show all evening, but not too much rain fell, just spit out.

To bed about 7:45, listened to music until about 9:00, then to sleep.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Rafting Expedition - Day 7

Up about 6:15, wonderful sleep. I wasn't too hot last night, unlike the other nights. I learned the best way to sleep in the sleeping bag, with the zipper on top, and unzipped most of the way. That let the heat escape.

Breakfast was banana porridge, toast and boiled eggs.

Packed the rafts and left about 9:30, I think.

The rafting was not nearly as exciting as yesterday. Not as much white water, nt as big, and ots of flat spots between the whitewater. Yesterday was full-on white-water.

A few of us went swimming in the morning, jumping off the raft. The water was cold, but warmer than it was further upp, and once you got in, it wasn't too bad.

Stopped for lunch at one point, and I ate like a pig again.

Continued on, the wind really started picking up, blowing upstream. We had to paddle hard, just to keep the wnd from blowing the raft back upstream. When we stopped, the raft would slowly go backwards.

We stopped about 4:00, I suppose. I bathed for the first time in 7 days! Woohoo! The water was cold, but bearable cold.

Lots of fisherman on the river, with fishing rods (bamboo sticks) or fishing nets.

I got to captain the raft for an hour or so today, giving orders..."All forward!"..."Stop", or when we got stuck on a rock, "Jump right!" If there was only one rock sticking out in the whole river, I was sure to find it and get stick on it! I even got to shoot a number of rapids as the bossman. It was great. I got the nickname "Rock Magnet" from Shaun.

To bed about 8:30.

The locals were totally fascinated with our expedition. They would sit and watch for hours as we set up camp.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Rafting Expedition - Day 6

Up about 6:00, I had to pee so bad. Steph was sleeping beside me in the shelter, and she punched me in the face in the middle of the night. And the sand flies (or something) bite lke crazy, and leave great big welts, itchy as heck, and they itched for days. Oh well, part of the experience.

We had tea/coffee and breakfast, got the rafts packed and had our rafting safety meeting. Mani made it sound so scary, all the things that could go wrong. They had two rafts, our raft, plus a gear raft, and two safety kayakers. He was explaining what to do if you fall out (try to swim to the nearest raft or kayak), if you can't swim (too tired, caught in whirlpool, etc.), one of the kayakers will come for you, or a throw rope will be thrown to you. What to do if the raft flips. Rule number one: DON'T PANIC!!!

We started rafting around 9:30 or 10:00. Remember all the locals sitting on the bridge all morning, watching and waiting for us to start rafting.

There was some awesome whitewater today. Big rapids, with big waves and rocks. We had to stop a few times so the guides could scout the rapids ahead and find the best line to take.

I was sitting at the front left side of the raft, and I took the lions share of the waves coming over the front of the raft. The water was SOOOO cold, everytime it happened, I would yell and freeze for a second or two as the wave came over me, then shiver and shake it off, then continue paddling. Steph was sitting behind me, she was laughing so hard at me.

As we were rafting, local kids would run along the rivers edge, along the rocks and boulders, keeping up with the raft. They are so sure footed on the rocks and boulders, in their bare feet or the flip-flops. It's amazing.

We stopped at a small beach for lunch about 1:00, and locals, especially kids, just sat on a big rock and watched is. I ate like a pig.

After lunch, we continued rafting, and stopped at another beach about 3:30 for the night. We camped where the Kabeli river meets the Tamur river.

My watches stopped working today. It's supposed to be waterproof. Dumb Timex. It might still have warranty, I'll have to bring it back to Canada and check it out.

It was a beautiful evening, no rain threat. I brougt out my MP3 player and speakers, and we listened to music.

The guides made supper (pasta with a mushroom cream sauce), and Mani made hot rum punch, which was really good. Steph and Shaun to bed early (as usual), I was to bed at 8:45.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Rafting Expedition - Day 5

Up about 6:15. Hot again in the sleeping bag.

Had tea/coffee and breakfast, and left about 8:15.

More and more downhill today, and reached the Tamur river about 11:45. There is quite a little town, called Dhoban, where we started rafting. There are lots of pedestrian suspension bridges in Nepal, to get across the deep gorges and the raging rivers.

As we were trekking, Mani bought some fresh fish from a local, who had caught them in the Tamur river. He tells me they are just called white fish, but I didn't recognize them.

We had lunch on the beach and lounged all afternoon. We were certainly the center of attention for all the locals. They were all standing (or sitting) on the suspension bridge, peering down on us. Some of the local kids would come down to the beach and play around on the rafts.

The rest of teh guys did some laundry, and laid it out to dry on the rocks, as did the guides.

We setup a shelter and the tents, using the bamboo rods. It's not pretty, the bamboo sticks aren't the correct size, and the tents don't work too well. For the shelter, the guides put one of the rafts on it's edge, and used two paddles underneath it to provide a partial shelter. Then they used a tarp, one end tied to the raft, the other to the ground to make a kind of tent/shelter.

About 5:15, a HUGE wind came roaring down the valley. The tents collapsed, the shelter came crashing down, and clothes and everything not tied down started blowing away. Steph was under the shelter at the time, and it came crashing down on her, a paddle hit her in the head, and she was stuck under the raft (they are heavy!) She was alright, but got a good bump on the head.

I remembered everyone else was racing around, trying to catch clothes and whatever that was blowing away. I gabbed someones underwear and two socks, among other things.

We waited for the wind to die down, then setup the shelter again, and the guides had to restart the cooking process because sand and leaves got into everything. Mani and the guides rebuilt the shelter and made it extra strong this time. We didn't bother with the tents after that episode.

After the windstorm, lightning and thunder surrounded us, and they had to move the kitchen into another quickly erected shelter (two paddles stuck into the sand, a rope tied between the two, and a tarp strung over it, either end tied to teh ground. What a storm it was, huge hail, some the size of nickels. It was amazing.

The storm only lasted 20 or 30 minutes, then we ate supper outside under the moon and stars. Supper was deep fried fish. Tasty, but the fish was like jackfish, too many bones to navigate to make it enjoyable.

Beautiful evening. Will and I hjad a drink (vodka and coke), listened to music, then the rafting boys (guides) went to bed around 9:00 so Will and I did too. Shaun and Steph where in bed early.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Rafting Expedition - Day 4

Up at 6:00. Despite how cold it was last night, I was freakin hot in the sleeping bag. It's an amazing sleeping bag. Just FYI, everything is included in the trip, except for the sleeping bags and sleeping mats. The other three all had their own sleeping bags and mats. I was able to rent a sleeping bag and mat (through Ultimate Descents) for about $1.50/day.

We had tea/coffee, breakfast, packed everything up and left about 7:45.

Hiked and hiked and hiked a long way. The distance we covered today is usually a 2 day hike, which we did in one day. By the afternoon, we started descending, down and down and down and down. A lot more greenery in this area, compared to the first day, where it seemed pretty dry and a lot of brown. And the houses around here are much nicer, all painted up different colours.

We stopped at a nice lodge with a great "back yard" for the night. We got there about 5:30, and setup camp. Thunder clouds started appearing, and there was a wild fire not more than 200 yards from us. That freaked me out! I should note that wild fires are not uncommon, we've seen plenty of them. But to have one that close. I had visions of not sleeping and keeping sticking my head out of the tent to see if the wild fire was encroaching on us.

Because of our lack of tent poles, the guides fashioned tent poles out of bamboo. It worked, not great, but it did work.

We got the tents and tarps up just as the rain started pouring down. The rain did put out the raging fire just around the corner, which made me happy. The rain didn't last that long, but it did come down hard.

Supper was veggies, mashed potatoes, garlic bread and fatty pork. I was the only meat eater out of the four of us.

To bed about 9:00.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Rafting Adventure - Day 3

I forgot to mention a few things about Day 1. The drive through the valley along the Trisu river was amazing. The road after Mugling (where we had lunch) was the most terrible road I'd ever been on (until we went offroading with the bus, as I mentioned on Day 2!)

There were numerous "burnt-out" busses on the highway in the valley. Work of the Maoists, they will stop the trucks on the highway, tell everyone to get out, then blow up or burn the truck. The carcasses of numerous busses were still sitting on the highway as we drove by. It was quite a sight.

As we were driving along, every town has an army contingent and a checkpoint of some sort. Often times, in the small towns, we would see soldiers having coffee in a local restaurant, chatting with locals, or chatting up the cute girls in the community.

The Terai (flat bit in southern Nepal) is very much like parts of Vietnam...jungles has been removed, and agriculture has taken over, for as far as the eye could see, flat terrace farming, locals working their buts off planting or harvesting or whatever, water buffalo doing their work.

Now, on to today:
Up at 6:00, had tea/coffee and breakfast at the lodge. The sleep was nice, the beds were comfortable. We started hiking about 8:00.

We had lunch at a place called Bhedi about 1:00. The guides make everything from scratch out here. No restaurants.

We ran into a few "yak caravans". Yaks (Yak?) are used to carry things around in the mountains. It's quite hilarious, because there will be two lead yaks, both will be wearing lots of bells, have big pink or purple feathery earrings hanging down, and a big pink wig on their head! They look absolutely ridiculous!!! The rest of the yaks, which may have fewer bells, and may or may not have the earrings, follow along behind. The lead yaks will stop and look behind the to make sure others aren't falling behind or whatever, then continue on. The yak herders (two or three people) will follow up behind.

We passed by a village called Cheuki...there was a huge celebration happening. Lots of hot local girls dressed up in their finest, the guides all flirting with them. Mani (our main guide and who speaks the most english), told us they are celebrating the Nepal New Year, and the celebrations will last for many days.

We stopped just outside of Cheuki for a rest and two very old men came along, and sat down. They were 79 and 82 years old, Ghurka soldiers, fought along side the British in Burma in WWII, these chaps did. Apparently Nepal Ghurka warriors were, and still are, known as some of the fiersest and best warriors available. They said a lot has changed in their life times. They get visited my two different armies now, and they don't know which one is the real army. One of the armies wants money (the Maoists). Things are much more complicated now than they used to be.

As we were walking along, I almost got trampled in a yak caravan. A bunch of yaks came over a hill, and I stood to the side to let them pass (as did everyone else). Some of the yaks decided to cut around the outside, and they started running down the hill, right at me (and Will). We didn't see them until they were almost on us and Steph was yelling at us. I turned around to see yaks running at me, and nowhere to go. I stood frozen for a second, a couple of yaks ran on either side of me, then I bolted out of the way of the rest of the yaks!! It was kind of scary, but I'm sure they wouldn't have actually ran into me...they all would have went around me, I'm sure.

We camped at Manglbara, in a valley. It was cold, very windy, cloudy. I didn't bring much for warm clothes, and ended up having to wrap my sleeping bag around me to keep warm while we were waiting for supper.

As we were trying to set up camp, we found out the two tents had no tent poles! Someone screwed up! We improvised by placing walking sticks and rafting oars inside the tent to hold them up. It wasn't pretty, but it worked.

Then, along came the Maoists. They wanted money. They talked to Mani (guide) and told him they wanted 5000 rupees from each of us. Mani told them where to go, there was no way we wuld pay that. Mani negotiated to 1000 rupees for each of us (which was the amount we figured we'd have to pay if we ran into them). We each gave them 1000 rupees, and got a receipt! If the Maoists come a knockin' again, we can show the receipt to prove we already paid.

The highest altitude we reached today was just over 3000 metres (3050 metres, I think). I believe we were camping at just under 3000 metres.

There's a haze in the sky, it sucks. We are unable to see the Himalayas from here.

Local kids were fascinated with us.

There are four of us rafting. We have five guides. And we have 30 (!) porters to carry everything for us for the next three days.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Rafting Adventure - Day 2

Up at 4:00...the idea is to get ahead of the rush at the next army checkpoint. The beds were horrible, full of bed bugs biting us all night long. We had chai, then off we went. We got stopped a few minutes later in a big lineup...trucks in front of us for as far as the eye can see. Another checkpoint, not opened yet. We had to wait 2.5 hours, until 7:30, before we finally started moving. We stopped for breakfast at a different town. Remember the restaurant owner and our guides getting into a big argument because the restaurant dude claimed we ate 20 buscuits, when we only had three.

It was a long drive, and we got to Dharan about 2:00 and picked up Shawn and Steph. They thought we forgot about them!

After Dharan, the road heads back into the foothills, up a big hill, and we had lunch at the top at a restaurant. Tons of locals milling around the town, because of the Nepal New Year, which is today.

The drive up through the foothills is quite spectacular. Unfortunatly, there's a haze in the air, you can't see too far.

We got to Hile about 5:30, a town on the top of a mountain, where the road ends, and it's time for offroading. The "road" past Hile shouldn't be attemtped by anything short of a Hummer...but here we were in our bus, pitch black, being thrown around the bus, as it offroads over the mountain tops. It inches along the edges of cliffs, speeds not exceeding 20 kph, probably less than 10 most of the time. Not only our bus, the regular local bus service runs along here too, as well as the goods carriers. Insane.

It took us about 2.5 hours to get to Bhasantapur, where the bus trip ended and we start trekking tomorrow.

We had supper at the lodge there, and were put to bed in nice, comfy beds, with extra thick comforters (cool mountain air!)

Words Shaun lives by:
Always drink when you can drink,
Always eat when you can eat,
Always piss when you can piss,
Always sleep when you can sleep.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Rafting Adventure - Day 1

Up about 4:20, showered, finished packing and got to Ultimate Descents at 5:00, got my big backpack and my valuables stored away. We walked to the bus and left at 5:30. We drove through Kathmandu, part of the way, then got stuck in a HUGE traffic jam!! We didn't move until about 9:00. We drove (slowly, behind all the other traffic), for about 30 minutes, got just outside Kathmandu, and got stuck again for another two hours or so! You see, for the last 10 days, there has been a general strike called by the Maoist rebels, and all road travel has been pretty much shut down for the past 10 days. Today is the first day anything can get out of Kathmandu, and all the busses and good carriers are itching to get to their destinations. The army has many checkpoints scattered throughout Kathmandu, but they don't let anyone pass until they have orders to start letting vehicles through. Everything was at a standstill until they opened up the checkpoints. Then, it's slow going, because the army does random vehicle checks too.

So, here we were, one bus in a line of vehicles that stretched for miles, all trying to get out of Kathmandu.

Once we finally got going, the views of the Kathmandu valley were amazing. The road followed the Trisu river west, then south, then finally opened up onto the terai (the flat bit that runs along southern Nepal). We stopped at Chitwan National Park and dropped a few other backpackers off that were just getting a ride with us. We stopped at a town called Mugling for lunch (Dal Bhat).

There were four of us on the rafting trip, two of them, Steph and Shaun, opted to fly east, rather than endure the bus ride. So, it was just me and Will on the bus, along with the bus driver, his girlfriend, and 5 guides and some other guy. Of course, the bus was packed with all our supplies, the rafts, the kayaks, etc.

We were supposed to meet Steph and Shaun in Dharan tonight. We didn't make it. By a long shot. We were about 6 hours behind schedule, because of the checkpoints, and the army has imposed a curfew on night travel, so we were forced to stop in some two-bit village for the night about 7:30. Our guide arranged accomodations for us, and we ate Dal Bhat (rice with potatoes and other spicy things). Dal Bhat isn't that tasty to my taste buds.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Monkey Attack!

Up about 9:30, showered, took some laundry in to get done.

Went for breakfast at a cheap restaurant that was showing Lord of the Rings: The REturn of the King. It finished about noon, went back to the hotel and wrote in my journal, read, used internet, walked around.

Went for lunch, had a BLT sandwich and a mochacinno about mid afternoon.

Listened to my MP3 player in the courtyard. As I was sitting there, there were other people around, chatting, having something to drink, snacking, whatever. Then I heard a commotion behind me, and turned around, and there was a monkey. It had jumped down into the courtyard, and was looking for food. Then I noticed another monkey. They were terrorizing the people sitting at another table, lunging at them, and baring it's teeth, trying to get something from them. They backed away, grabbing all their stuff, but the monkey was pretty aggressive. Finally the hotel workers arrived, but they wouldn't do anything, they just threw cushions at them...which didn't do much, they just watched them fly by. Finally, another guy came out with a slingshot and started throwing rocks at them, and they jumped back up and took off.

Sabine came around about 5:00, then Andrew showed up. We decided to go for supper after my rafting meeting.

I went for my rafting meeting at 6:00, and met the othe rafters. I'm the baby of the bunch. There are three others, two from Scotland (Steph and Shawn) and one from England (Will). We have to meet at the Ultimate Descent office at 5:00am tomorrow morning.

The meeting ended shortly after 7:00, and I went back to the guest house, and was expecting a message for me at the front counter, but there was none. I checked the courtyard, they weren't there. I went up to my room, and two other girls were in the hallway, one of them asked me if I was Todd. Yup. They told me that a message was put in one of their key boxes by mistake, a message for me. I'm to meet them at the Typical Nepali Restaurant for supper. So, headed over to the Typical Nepali Restaurant about 7:15, and they were there.

After supper (9:00), we went to a bar/restaurant and listened to a live band. Andrew left about 9:30, Sabine and I left about 9:45. Went back to the guest house, got laundry, paid my hotel bill and went to bed about 11:00.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Gone away

I'm going away on my 12-day rafting trip tomorrow morning, bright and early.

There will be no updates for the next two weeks or so!


Another Day of Nothingness

Lazy this morning. I woke up about 10:00, got up about 10:30. Showered and crap. Walked out front of the guest house and checked at G's Terrace to see if Andrew was around, but he wasn't. Decided to have the morning buffet breakfast at the guest house, fill me face and skip lunch. Andrew came along about 11:30, and we talked abotu going to the party in Bhaktapur with fried-brain buddy. We were kind of both of he opinion that if we went, we wouldn't stay the night, but come back to our guest house, but we were both kind of thinking of simply not going.

After breakfast, I went to the courtyard to read, Andrew came by and said he was going to wait at G's Terrace for buddy. He was supposed to meet us there between noon and 1:00. Andrew came back at 1:00, and he didn't show anyway.

About 2:00, I went shopping again for sunscreen and long pants, which I needed for my rafting. Continued walking and found some streets I hadn't seen yet. I ended up getting kind of lost, and walked around for a couple of hours, but eventually found my way back.

Stopped at a bakery on the way back to the guest house and had a chocolate brownie and cinnamon bun, then back to the guest house and wrote in my journal and read. I met my new neighbour in the room next to me, a Japanese guy. Sabine came along about 5:30, and we sat around and talked. She had a good day at work, and thinks she'll enjoy it there for 3 months.

About 7:00, she got her stuff from my room and took it to her new hotel, and was going to come back an hour later, and we'd go for supper.

As I was waiting for Sabine in the lobby, the Japanese guy, speaking in his broken english, came in the lobby with a couple of his Japanese friends, and he said hi to me, then walked past, then came back and asked me if I wanted a wooden elephant. I recognized the wooden elephant as souvenirs a lot of hawkers are peddling on the streets, they are quite persisent when they try to sell them. The Japanese guy, told me he bought four of the elephants, while his two Japanese friends behind him were laughing quite hysterically. I chuckled and asked him why he bought four of them. He laughed and said he didn't want to buy any of them, but he said his stress level was very high as the sale was being pitched at him from the peddler, and he ended up buying four. Now he's trying to give them away, because he doesn't want four. Anyway, we all got a good laugh, especially his friends, because now he has these four big wooden elephants he has to carry around with him.

A short while later, Sabine showed up, and we went for supper.

Got to bed about 10:00.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

Woke up about 8:00, but didn't get mobile until about 9:30. The nighttime temperature here (and room temeature) is so India, it was so flippin hot in the room, it was uncomfortable to even try to "soak" in's it nice!

Today was my day to relax and not do too much.

I showered, and went for breakfast and a restaurant behind a big bookstore.

Then I had to bring a picture of myself as well as a my insurance policy information to the rafting company, for their records. On my way there, a boy started talking to me, asked me where I was from, I told him Canada, and he said, "Canada, capital city Ottawa." He then wanted me to ask him any country in the world, he could tell me the capital. I rattled off half dozen countries, and without hesitation, he knew each and every one. I figured he'd want something from me at some point, so I kept ducking into shops, but he would be waiting for me when I came came out. Then he asked me if I would buy him milk powder, for his baby sister at home. Milk powder? What could I say? I said I would, we went to a store, they had a big can of it for 500 rupees, but that was too much, I told him. The store owner dug up a smaller package, for 150 rupees, which I bought for him, he was thankful and ran off. I heard later in the day that they may do that to tourists, then they'll take the milk powder (or whatever they coerce the tourist to purchase for them) back to the store and get the money for it. Don't know if that's true or not.

Heading back to my room, an into a German girl, staying in the room next to me. Sabine, she's here to work at a hospital as part of her education, she's workign towards being a doctor. We went for lunch, I had a apple pie, then walked around a bit, then we did our own thing. She wasn't happy with this guest house, and was going to check out he same hotel she stayed at last time she was here for work (3 years ago), so made arrangements to meet later in the day.

I went off for some shopping and bought a nice local print (can't remember the term that describes this type of print) and a long sleeve shirt (for my rafting trip), and a book. The book I bought in India sucked, I sold it to Sabine.

Later in the afternoon, we met up in the courtyard at the hotel. She talked to the people at the hotel she stayed at last time, they remembered her (from three years ago!) and gave her the same price for the room she got last time. She's staying 3 months. We also met a British guy, Andrew, who had just arrived. He's on his way to New Zealand, but spending two weeks in Nepal first.

After the sun went down, the three of us headed out to have supper. I had sizzling steak, and was it ever delicious!!! Yum!

We walked around Thaml for a bit, I ordered a silk sleeping bag, which I have to pick up tomorrow at 6:00pm. It's too easy so spend money here!

Abot 9:00, we headed to G's Terrace, a rooftop restaurant/bar that has a live band. The band was great, they did both English and Nepali songs, we had a drink. They stopped playing at 10:00, then started talking to some locals at the was too funny, he had long hair, kind of "hippie" looking, and very excitable, and I'm sure his brain was half cooked from too many drugs! He didn't speak english very well, but he always seemed to get his point across. I told him I was rafting, he asked me which river, I told him the should have seen him! I got so excited, telling me that's the wildest river in Nepal, he was standing up, telling me about great it is, he was so exctied talking about, he wouldn't sit down. I wish I had a video camera! We were all laughing hysterically at this guy.

He then started talking about a party in Bhaktapur (abotu 1 hour east of Kathmandu), it's a multi-day New Years Eve party (the Nepal New Year, is April 14, the year 2062 (or 2063, I forget now)). He got all excitable talking about it, and me and Andrew decided to go with him to the party tomorrow (Sabine had to start work tomorrow).

We left the bar about 11:00 and went to bed.

Sabine left her pack in my room, because she wouldn't have time to move to the other hotel tomorrow morning, so she'll get her stuff from my room tomorrow after work and make the move.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

In and Around Kathmandu

We had a pretty good storm last night. About 12:30 last night, I woke up from booming thunder and a nice, strong rain. It was nice to see/hear after no moisture at all in India.

Up about 7:30, showered (beautifully hot!) and met Shawna and 8:00 for breakfast. The restaurant at the hotel had a breakfast smorg, so I did it. She ordered off the menu.

About 9:00, we walked to Durbar Square, a World Heritage Site, got a guide to take us around and explain all the Hindu & Buddhist things that were there. It was ery interesting. The most interesting thing was Kumari, Hindu Living Goddess. The Kumari is a Newari Buddhist (Newari is the term for the native population in Nepal). She is chosen at a young age, 3 or 4 years old, and must satisfy 32 physical requirements, as well as being strong in mind (not getting scared in a dark room, while people try to scare her my making scary noises and having to listen to animals being sacrificed). And her astrological chart must not conflict with the Kings. At our guides request, she appeared on the balcony, where we could see her, apparently a rare sight, especially for foreigners. (My Let's Go said a couple of years ago, she stopped appearing for tourists altogether.) She only stood there for about 7 seconds, and we were not allowed to take pictures. She will continue to be the living Goddess until she hits puberty, at which time she will be taken back to he village, trying to adapt to a normal life, and a new Newari will be chosen. I believe she is about 7 years old now. This is a pefect example of the fusion of two religions in Nepal.

After Durbar Square, we started walking to Swayambhunath, the Monkey Temple. We got about half way there, then a taxi offered us a ride for only 30 rupees, so we took it. Swayambhunath is the holiest place on earth for Newari Buddhist, it was built more than 2000 years ago. It's a temple, pagoda complex atop a hill in Kathmandu. We walked around, had lunch up there, and bummed around until 3:00, when the monks start chanting in the monastery. They allow tourists in to watch the chanting, which was pretty cool to see (I got video).

We started walking back to Thamel, got most of the way there, then decided to get a cycle rickshaw the rest of the way. I didn't know exactly where we were (streets here have no names, and go in circles), but figured we were close...we were, around a corner, and we were back in Thamel. We could have kept walking and got there ight away. Oh well.

AFter we got back, I headed to Ultimate Descents Nepal and booked the 12-day rafting trip! It leaves on April 13. Two days transportation, then 3 days of trekking to teh put-in point on the Tamur River, then 6 days of rafting, I believe it is. for information. I'm doing the Tamur River.

It was wupposed to leave earlier, but the Maoists rebels called a nationwide strike, and pretty much all ground transportation is at a halt right now. For those not in the know, the Maoist insurgents are a group of rebels fighting with the government. A couple of months ago, the king of Nepal fired the government, took control, and Maoist insurgencies have increased during that time. It's a time of political instability (which is why we see police and army everywhere...even walking around Thamel sometimes).

The weather was nice all day, partly cloudy, not too hot. Late in the afternoon, dark clouds moved over, it got windy, cooled down a bit and started raining. The weather is beautiful here!

Back to the hotel and was sitting in teh lobby, and saw a posting for a trek to Everest Base Camp on the board. I went over and started reading it, and a couple of older women (50-55 perhaps) asked me if I was doing the Everest Base Camp trek. I said no, I just saw it and was reading about it, and they told me they just got back from that same trek. I was kind of shocked...if two old women could do it...I certainly could! It's a 12 day trek, including everything. And this is the time of year to do it to, April/May is the only time that Everest Base Camp is "open for business"...the rest of year, it's pretty desolate, because April/May is the only time of year Everest can be summited. It got me all excited to do it! I could trek to Everest Base Camp! How incredibly wild would that be??????????????

I'll have to see if there's another one going after I get back from my rafting.

There's so freaking much to do here. I don't know what to do. I want to do Everest Base Camp. I want to go to Pokhara (another city in the mountains) and parasail. I want to go canyoning! I want to go visit the jungles in southern Nepal. I want to go overland to Tibet. I want to bungy jump 160 metres! I want to do everything! I'm definately coming back to Nepal again in the future!!!!!!

And you know what? I think my mom could even enjoy it here. I'm sure it's no Hong Kong, but there are shops galore, the restaurants are fabulous, the hotel I'm at is swanky, if you want to pay for swank. There's so much to do. There are huge resorts in the mountains to lounge and relax.

There are tons of olde tourists here. I'd say 70% are older tourists (45-50 years old and over). And there all here for adventure, just like the old ladies that did Everest Base Camp.

I want to remark about women in Nepal too. In India, women have a role...stay at home, look after children, cook, clean...they traditional things. It's the mans job to support the family and work and make money. I really had zero interaction with Indian women in India. Nepal is much more progressive, women work in the shops. Women are allowed in the army. I've seen a number of uniformed women in army fatigue, carrying machine guns. And they're very cute too! Our guide at Durbar Square said only in the past 4 or 5 years have women been allowed in the army. Nepal is a fascinating country.

I expected things to be very similar to India...but they are not. Everything is so different.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Kathmandu - Heaven!

Up at 6:30, about 6:35, the front desk called because my 7:00am taxi was here. Oh brother. I told them I would be down shortly.

Got downstairs, me and a U.S/Korean dude were sharing the taxi. The taxi left about 7:15, got to the airport and found the Cosmic Air counter, and checked my baggage and asked for a window seat on the left side of the plane. I was hoping to see the Himalaya's as we flew towards Kathmandu. The lady remarked that I'd have to identify my luggage after immigration.

I headed through immigration. Holy, talk about a three ring circus. The lines moved so slow, like the queue at the train station in Jaisalmer. And the immigration agents would just up and leave, or move to a different station, abandoning the people in the queue. What a joke. Needless to say, it took me about an hour to get through immigration. Once I got to an agent, she had me done in less than a minute.

After getting through, I was hungry, and spied a Subway restaurant sign! So, I went and got a submarine. Mmmm.

As I was getting ready to eat my sub, a woman came up and asked me if I was flying Cosmic Air. Yes, I wsa. She told me that I didn't identify my baggage. Ack! I thought I had to identify my baggage once I got through Nepal immigration, not here. She took my baggage claim ticket, disappeared for a few minutes, then brought it back and said everything was good, and asked me to go through security and wait at the gate.

BTW, security at the airport is everywhere. They are always checking your ticket and your carry-on luggage for approval tags.

At the gate, I ate my sub, then saw the lady (Shawna) that I met last night, and sat with her. Then we had to pile on to busses, which whisked us away to a plane waiting on the tarmac. Once on the plane, we had to wait for more passengers that were stuck at immgration. Flight was supposed to leave at 10:05, but we didn't leave until about 11:00.

The airline was a Nepal airline, and the two flight attendants were HOT!

The flight was only 1 hour, and I couldn't see the mountains at all. There's a lot dust or something in the air, but I suspect that you just can't see them flying in from the west.

Kathmandu airport is NICE! Unexpected! Delhi's airport is pretty much a dive, I expected the same in Kathmandu. You need to purchase your Kathmandu visa in American dollars. Of course, I didn't have any. The two customer relation ladies kind of implied I was SOL, there was no way to get US money, but I headed over to the currency exchange booth and the man was kind enough to cash one of my $50 US travellers cheques, give me $30 US cash and the rest in Nepalese rupees.

Immigration and customs went very quickly. Me and Shawna booked a prepaid taxi to the Kathmandu Guest House.

Outside the airport, the army was in full force, with armed guards walking around, toting massive machine guns. And, there wasn't a mob of touts at the airport front door...very calm and quiet! Very nice!

The taxi ride to the guest house showed us lots of greenery, very clean city. They definately don't just push all their trash onto the streets, like they do in India. And NO COWS!!!! As we got close to the guest house, in the heart of the backpacker/tourist area, the shops were amazing. Quite a number of tourists around, and they weren't getting mobbed by 100 locals at every step, trying to sell something. It looked so much calmer .

Along the way, we also saw many more army personnel, standing around, guarding "important" locations.

For those not in the know about Nepal, there is no government right now. The king fired the gov't a couple of months ago, and the Maoist insurgents have been calling for nationwide strikes periodically, and occassionally clashing with the armed forces and police.

As the taxi pulled up the guest house, we were in for another shock. The guest house is protected by security personnel (not army...private, I believe), who open the gate to let the taxi in. The taxi drove up a long, tree-lined looked like we were entering a 5-star resort hotel! The prices here range from $2US for the cheapo backpacker to over $60/night for luxury. I booked an $8/night room, overlooking the great courtyard/grassy garden area.

Kathmandu is AWESOME! So very different from India. I expected it to be so similar to India, but it's not.

Thamel, the area of town we're in, is the main backpacker and tourist area in Kathmandu. It's full of nice shops selling everything from mountaineering/trekking equipment, pirate CD/DVD's, fabrics, clothes, shoes, trinkets and everything in between. Beautiful, open-air restaurants, serving any kind of food you could imagine, western, Mexican, middle eastern, Chinese, etc. Bakeries galore. Everything is so very clean. They don't push their rubbish out on the streets here.

I love it here!!!! This is the best backpacker haunt I've ever been to in any Asian city (better than Bangkok).

Me and Shawna had lunch at the hotel. Very good food. She lectured me on eating my veggies.

After lunch, I walked around the streets. Everything is so much tamer than Delhi. You still get the store workers trying to get you into your store, but they don't harass you and follow you for's just so much tamer. And not a million touts around.

I checked out a couple of respected rafting companies. One is doing a 12-day trekking/rafting trip on April 13, it's $700US. The other company didn't have any planned, because of lack of tourists. The political instability has really hit tourism hard here. This rafting trip I'm looking into was supposed to go earlier, but because of a nationwide strike called my the Maoist insurgents recently, all overland travel is at a standstill, so they had to delay it.

There is so much to do here. Treks to the Everest Base Camp. Worlds 2nd highest bungy jumping. Paragliding. Rafting trips. Trekking trips. The bulletin board at the guest house has posters looking for people interested in doing an inexpensive overland trek into Tibet. Kathmandu KICKS ASS!

Back to the hotel and sat in the courtyard, had an Everest beer (160 rupees - there is about 55 rupees to 1 Canadian dollar) and wrote in my journal.

The temperature is pleasant. Not to hot, not to cold. I started to get a tad cool in my shorts and shirt about 5:30, as I was sitting in the courtyard.

My bank card works here. Go figure.

I can buy STEAK here! YES!!!

The big Everest beer I had (650 mL) made me's been a while since I had antyhing. I went back to my room and laid down for a bit. About 7:00, I walked around and bought an apple muffin from a bakery. As I was walking, I had a number of offers to purchase drugs, and a couple of rickshaw drivers asking if I wanted a woman for the night.

Went to sleep about 9:00.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Delhi Revisited

Very long and very dirty train ride. I slept good, though. By the end of the journey, everything was covered in a good layer of dirt. Arrived in Delhi about 2:00pm maybe. About 20 hours train ride.

The train stopped at the Old Delhi Train Station, so got a cycle rickshaw to Paharganj and waked to Anoop Guest House. Those cycle rickshaws, they sure earn their feel so bad for them, they work SOO hard, with their one speed extra large tricycles, trying to up hills with a load of 200 pounds behind them.

Checked in, and went upstairs to my room. I looked at myself in the mirror, after having done a long, dirty train ride. I was hideous!!! I looked like I hadn't showered in months, my hair was up all over, by lips were severly chapped, sun burn peeling on my face, dirt covering me. I took a picture of myself, I looked so bizarre! Then I showered, hit internet quickly, then booked an open-ended ticket to Kathmandu for about $205CDN. I fly tomorrow at 10:00am.

Went upstairs for supper. Had chicken pizza. It was awesome. They have a resident cat in the restaurant at this guest house. One of the workers brought it the leftovers of a chicken skeleton to munch on. Did it enjoy that! AFter it was done, the cat stood there and bathed itself all over. A while later, one of the workers brought up a tiny kitten. It was still a little unsure on it's feet. It was so cute, and the worker was teasing the kitten with a piece of chicken meat. Once the kitten had it in it's mouth, the worker had a tough time getting it back! Then the other cat came wasn't that happy about having competition in the restaurant...a new kitten on the block! It swatted the kitten a couple of times, but the kitten was pretty fierce fighter, clawing back. It was pretty funny.

There was a french guy at the hotel, backpacking with a three year old kid! How tough would that be!

India seems to have a lot of older backpackers, 26+ years old. Unlike SE Asia, where the backpacker age was 18-25.

There are virtually no cats and chickens see them all over in SE Asia.

Went back to the internet and brought my journal up to date. As I was using the internet, the lady sitting next to me was on the same flight to Kathmandu as I was. She's older (50 perhaps), her name is Shawna. Born in Israel, living in US now. I think she was nervous, she seemed happy to meet me.

After internet, headed outside to "shop". Decided to brave the maddening Delhi scene. Walked all over Paharjang and bought a pair of nice sandals for way too much rupees. 1250 rupees. He started at 1850, I started at 800, and that's where ended up. I suck at haggling! I have no clue what they're worth, but I don't think they're worth what I paid......oh well.

AFter that, kept walking around and got a haircut for 20 rupees (about 60 cents). The man was a master with the scissors.

About 9:00, the shops started to close down and things quieted down, so went back to the room, packed, wrote in journal, watched MTV.

I have to admit, now that I've been in India for a while, and "culture-ized"...I like Delhi now! It's insane, in your face, full-on, crazy busy, bizarrely dirty...but it's fun! My first experience with Delhi was just off the plane, and it was too much, too quick, overload on the senses. I needed time for everything to sink in. It's kind of similar to Khao San Road in Bangkok, except the streets are tiny, there's cows everywhere, garbage is piled up everywhere, but tons of stuff happening, lots of locals and tourists.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Women Rule!

Up about 8:00. No hot water. Didn't have a shower. Packed my stuff and went upstairs for breakfast. About 9:00, walked to the internet and he told me it was working at the moment, but to wait. There was a girl from Washington state waiting as well, so we waited and talked for a very long time. Two hours we talked, and every once in a while the internet dude would remark that the line was still busy. Finally, we headed off to another internet. I had dozens of new e-mails, including two from my mom "Where are you?" "Are you ok?". Also found out my great aunt Dot passed away. Jen only had two. She was quite disappointed!

I updated my journal, then we went our separate ways.

I headed back to the hotel, cooled off in the room a bit, then about 2:00, took a tuk-tuk to the train station to see if I made it on the train. I too my whole backpack, because one way or another, I was getting on that train.

The line-up for the counter was long again. I knew it was going to a long wait until I got to the counter. When I walked in, an Israeli girl was sitting down, waiting, and she kept checking me out. AFter a few minutes, she got up and proceeded to bypass the queue to the ticket counter, with the encouragement of a local or two. She kept looking at me. We started chatting, and she remarked that because she's a woman, she gets special treatment at the train stations. She (Simona, I think was her name) didn't know that until recently, when some of the locals started talking to her, asking her why she was waiting in line. They told her to just go to the front of the line. I half joked (but half serious!) that I should have her check my ticket to see if I made the train or not. She said that wouldn't be a problem, she would do that for me, but me being the polite type, declined, saying I would just wait in line. All of a sudden, she grabbed my ticket from me, said she'll check it for me, and to go and sit down. So, I went and sat down. There was another backpacker behind me...I'll bet he was wishing he started chatting her up first! Haha! A few minutes later, she returned with her own ticket (she was booking out of here for tomorrow) and good news for me. I was on the train! YES!!!! I thanked her muchly for doing that for me, she insisted it was no problem. Haha, I'll bet all the other backpackers were pissed off at me at that moment! They all had to wait in line!

I also found out that the train was late today, it would be arriving in Jaisalmer about 5:00 and not leaving until about 6:30 (usually it leaves about 4:15). With a bunch of extra time to kill, we decided to head to town to get something to eat.

She told me it's a very intersting experience to be a single women travelling alone in India. Both pro's and con's. Local men stare a lot. Just stare at her. Local men believe that foreign women are "easy"...the complete opposite of Indian women. The local men are always wanting to talk to foreign women and touch them, even their hands or arms, they don't get that opportunity with Indian women. So, it's hard, because they get all that extra attention that they don't necessarily want. But, they get special treatment, like not having to wait in lines. Many train stations have separate queues for women...Jaisalmer, being quite small, only had one queue for everyone, so because she was a woman, she found out that she gets special priveleges. Simona is a very nice girl. (Note: Guys, if you plan on coming to India, travel with a woman!!!)

Simona was trying to book a ticket to Jaipur, but the section from Jodhpur to Jaipur was she only got a ticket to Jodhpur, which arrives in Jodhpur at night, which she wasn't happy about. She decided that she should go back to the train station and get on the waiting list for the Jodhpur to Jaipur part, by the time tomorrow rolls around, she'll probably be ok.

So, we headed back to the train station, and I sat down and waited, and she pushed her way to the front of the queue and got herself on the waiting list for the second part of the journey. Note that none of the men in the queue complain or groan or anything about her doing them it's perfectly acceptable that she should get preferential treatment.

We went out separate ways, and I waited for the train.

As I was waiting, the tuk-tuk driver that took us to town for lunch and brought us back came back and told me that she didn't pay the fare, and tried to get me to pay. I pretty much told him to screw off, and he did. He was just trying to get extra money out of me.

The train showed up shortly after 5:00, everyone piled on, and the train left about 6:45.

The train was a new experience! I was in a sleeper car. There are 72 "beds" in a sleeper car. Each compartment has 8 beds, 6 situated on one side of the aisle, two on the other side. They are like bunk beds. Three high on the one side (where the are 6 beds) and two high for the remaining two. I was on the top bed. During the day, everyone just sits on the bottom bed, when night falls, people start climbing up into their bunks and/or laying down on their beds. Everything is steel. Including the beds. Except maybe a few millimetres of padding covered my a plastic that make up the "bed". And two really grungy toilets, one at each end of the car. The windows have bars. It was like a prison on wheels.

I climbed up to bed about 9:00, I guess, and fell asleep.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

In and Around Jaisalmer

Up about 8:00, walked around the outside of the fort to find an ATM to get cash. My bank card doesn't work over here. But my Mastercard does, so it's all good. Then did a quick walk through the fort.

Walked back to the hotel and got a tuk-tuk to the train station to book a train back to Delhi. Holy slow! The lineup, that is! It took the train attendant guy about 10 minutes to process each person in the queue. I had to wait over an hour to finally get to the booth! It sucked!

I inquired about the train to Delhi. He said there would be no train from Jaisalmer to Delhi today, but I could get the train from Jodhpur to Delhi, but I would have to contact, the blah, blah, blah, blah. I tuned out. Royal Bummer. I asked about tomorrow, and he said yes, there is a train tomorrow. He asked if I wanted a sleeper, I said yes, and he said I was on a waiting list. Ugh! I was 8th on the waiting list. So, I bought the ticket, thinking 8th isn't so bad, I'll probably get on. I have to go back tomorrow at 2:00 to see if I made it. I sure I hope I get on that train! Four days in the desert heat is enough!!!

Back to the hotel, told them I was staying another night, then walked to the Midtown Restaurant (recommended in multiple travel books). I had a grilled cheese sandwich and fresh Dutch apple pie. Yum!!! The applie was amazing. I sat there and chatted with the restaurant worker for quite a while, got advice on how much to pay for some things (hats, shirts, etc.), then went and bought a hat and a reading book, "The God of Small Things". Not sure what it's about, but it takes place in India.

BTW, I think I'm getting used to the heat. I didn't mind it much today. It was still flipping hot, but I seem to be adjusting now.

I went back to the room, read, and wrote in journal.

Headed to the internet about 4:30. Went to three different internet places, none of their internets were working. Internet is out all across Jaisalmer.

It was very windy today. Lots of dust in the sky, helping block out the suns heat.

As I was heading out to use the internet, the hotel dude asked me when I was leaving. I told him I'm on a waiting list for tomorrow's train, I was 8th in line. He said there would be no problems, I would get on the train..

Had supper at the hotel. Mashed potatoes and baked beans. Very good, and huge servings of each.

One thing that surprises me in India is the total lack of pirate and illegal CD/VCD/DVD's that you can buy everywhere in SE Asia. The restaurants in SE Asia always had the latest flicks showing, but that doesn't happen here at all.

Listened to music all night, to bed about 10:00.

BTW, my lips are severely chapped!!!!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Never Stand Downwind of a Camel!!!

Slept awesome in the desert. Satar and Jien were up first and started breakast. I got up shortly afterwards. The sun had quite come over the horizon yet. Breakfast was toast with jam and omelette and porridge.

As we were eating, the German tourist visited, and I found out then that when Jien had gone to get beer and coke the night before, he stopped off at the German tourist and his guide and offered to bring back some beers for them too. But Jien accidentally broke one of the beers, it was too dark!!

By the way, the German tourist had a live chicken with him. His guide butchered the chicken last night for supper.

We saddled up and left, me and Satar on M.J., Jien on J.J. I think it was about 7:30. The temperature is night at night, not to hot not to cool.

Satar liked my watch. I let him wear it for the rest of the day.

We rode fairly fast all morning, stopping for camel water in a town along the way, then a 2nd stop at a watering hole in the desert.

We stopped for lunch, I dunno, maybe 11:00. So hot. Very windy today too. You may think that is a blessing, but it's not! The wind is like a furnace, blowing super-heated desert air into the already too hot shady sucks!

We stayed under the tree for many hours, until maybe 3:00, then did a short half hour jump to our pickup point.

Unfortuntely, the pickup wasn't there yet. He was supposed to be there between 4:00 and 5:00...we were a little early. As we waited (in the shade), German buddy and his guide passed on camels, heading to their pickup point.

My pickup finally arrived about 5:15. Late, but at least he showed. I said goodbye to my guides, they were awesome, and headed back into town.

Back to the room. I wnated to have a cold shower, but even the cold water was warm. I let it run for about 10 minutes (wasting water in a desert!) and it started to get cool.

Went upstairs for supper, got water with a huge chunk of ice in it. YES!!!!

Wrote in journal and listened to music the rest of the night.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Like a Good Boy, I Rode Michael Jackson All Day Long

Up at 6:30, showered, packed, went upstairs for breakfast at 7:00. Hotel dude came and told me the Norway guy was very sick last night, he wouldn't be coming on the safari. I do have a recollection of hearing someone getting sick last night.

Went downstairs at 7:30, and off me and the hotel dude went in the hotel jeep. We stopped at a market for veggies, then stopped at a chicken store for freshly butchered chicken parts. Then we stopped outside of town at a cenotaph for a picture, then farther afield at a very nice Jain temple. Then farther away and started offroading, and stopped at an old man and a kid and two camels standing in the desert. This was it!

The desert man and the kid were very excited to see me. I got my own turban (which I got to keep at the end).

We left on the camels about 9:00am. We camelled until about 11:30, then stopped for lunch. Chai, chappati (flat bread cooked over an open flame), and super spicy veggies (too spicy for me).

It was flaming hot. Lunch stop was in the shade of some scrubby trees amid the arid landscape.

It's too hot to travel during midday, so after lunch, we just lounged in the (hot) shade, then we mounted Micheal and Janet Jackson (me and the kid on Michael, the older man on Janet) and continued on. This was perhaps 2:30.

It was too hot. I remember thinking I didn't know if I could do another day of this tomorrow.

My guide (Jien) is sooooooo nice. He speaks in broken english and looks after me like I'm a king. The boy (13 years old), Satar, is very friendly. They are both very happy to have me. Satar works on camel safari's with Jien to earn money for his family. His father cannot find work, he is the only one in the family who works. Jien (50 years old) works for another man, who owns about 20 camels (including our two). Jien doesn't own any camels himself, but would like to someday.

As we rode along, they would sing songs or humm.

We made a stop in a village for camel water, but it was dry. Jien has to pay to let the camels drink from the town camel water supply. He disappeard, to talk to someone, I guess, came back a few minutes later saying we had to make a small detour, into a small valley, where the gov't has dug a watering hole. The watering holes in town are a concrete circle, the walls perhaps 24 inches high. Water gets pumped into them. The watering hold in the valley was just a muddy hole in the ground.

In the town, the children would approach me and ask me for school pens. I didn't bring any, although I do remember dad remarking about that.

AFter our watering hole detour, we continued on.

I can't describe the heat. The bottled water gets HOT. Gross to drink. And the heat just zaps any energy you have. I'll take -40 over +40 any day...never again will I complain about our winters!

Finally made it to the sand dunes about...I dunno, 5:00 or 6:00, found a spot to dismount, I laid in the shade while Jien and Satar made an awesome supper, rice, chicken, veggies and chappati.

A German guy and his guide came to visit for a bit. He's on a three day safari.

After I ate, Jien offered to go to the nearest town and get "ice cold" beer (which was included in my tour) and whatever else I wanted. I ordered up two cokes and water...all the drinks we have with us are hot as hades. I gave him some money for the coke and water, he loaded up a camel and went off into the dusk.

Me and Satar made chappati, then Satar ate, and by the time he finished, it was dark. Satar and I pulled the food close to us, and sat on a blanket guarding the food from the hungry dogs, trying to get a scrap. Jien hadn't eaten yet. I had brought a flashlight with me, and all we could see was teh sillouette of the dogs.

Jien was gone for quite a while, over and hour (maybe 1.5 hours). But he finally returned, following the sound of Satar's voice, guiding him home.

The coke and beer was "air temperature"...not regrigerated, and the water was slightly cooled. Jien opened a beer for me (using his teeth...we had no bottle opener), and two cokes, one for me and one for Satar. I told Jien to eat, and he did. I told Jien to drink beer (I bought one for him), but he said not now, later. They sang traditional songs to me, then we headed up on to a sand dune, where they had laid out some blanets in the sand. Jien then disappeared again. I asked Satar if I was sleeping here, he said no, he would be making my bed for me. Jien returned carrying a bed on his back. Well, it was a cot. He put it down on the sand, Satar made my bed and I climbed in. They advised me to sleep with my pack and camera or else dogs might drag them off in the night.

The stars were amazing. We were only about 100km from the Pakistani border, they told me.

When we stop, they don't tie the camel's down at all. They tie a rope between their two front legs, so they can only take baby steps. The camels don't wander too far off, even over the course of the night.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


Got my 9:45pm bus to Jaisalmer. Long, but it wasn't painful. The road was fine. After a while, one just gets used to sleeping in busses.

As dawn broke, I could tell we were getting into more desert, arid land. Lots of peacocks in this area of India.

The bus finally made it to Jaisalmer about 10:45am. I checed into the Henna Hotel (new)...what got me was the big-ass air conditioner in the room. I was thinking of getting an A/C room anyway. The rooftop restaurant has a grand view of the fort as well.

Booked a 2-day "non-touristy" camel/jeep safari for tomorrow. It goes way out, near the Pakistan border. There's a guy from Norway going on the safari as well tomorrow.

Started walking around town to get my bearings. It's easy to get lost here! Went looking for a restaurant that my Let's Go says serves Western food. Got there and it was closed for the afternoon. Bugger. Kept walking in the heat...dumb idea. I remember stopping for a bottle of water at a restaurant, and it was COLD. I had a drink and got immediate brain freeze. It felt so good. Had another gulp. Brain freeze! Over and felt nice. I've never had such cold water in India yet!

Went looking for Crown Tours, as they are apparently the only Air India booking agent in town, but couldn't find it. It doesn't exist, or my map is wrong. I was going to see about flying from here to Delhi, then on to Kathmandu. Guess that won't be happening now.

It is blistering hot.

Back to my room, almost starving to death. Ordered spaghetti in cream sauce. Delicious. Ate it in my comfortable A/C room. (Well, ate half of stomach was very tiny from not eating much the last few days, so couldn't fit much in it).

Went to bed early, my safari starts at 7:30am tomorrow morning.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Happy April Fools Day!

Happy April Fools Day everyone. There will be no repeat of the April Fools joke I played two years ago (Courtney and I getting SARS).

I had my first ever lucid dream last night. It was awesome. A lucid dream is a dream where you realize you are dreaming and can control your dream. I was in Moose Jaw, but MJ was in the mountains, and I came up the edge of cliff. All of a sudden I realized I was dreaming, so I said to myself, "Self. I'm dreaming. Which means I can jump off of this cliff and nothing will happen. In fact, when I jump off of the cliff, I will fly." So I jumped. And sure enough, I started flying! And controlling my flight. Some people have lucid dreams quite easily, others don't.

I woke up about 8:30, showered, then asked reception about a bus to Jaisalmer. He called the bus station and the bus leaves at 10:00pm. So, I ordered breakfast (2 boiled eggs), then walked to the bus station and bought a ticket to Jaisalmer. 294 rupees. It leaves at 9:45 PM and the ride is about 13 hours, I think. I chose bus over train because the bus does from Jaipur to Jaisalmer, whereas there is not train that does that route. You have to get off one train and book another train in Jodpur to get to Jaisalmer from Jaipur using the train.

Back to the room. It's so hot out, I just don't feel like being outside during the day.

I started reading about rafting in Nepal. It sounds amazing. Rafting trips are anywhere from 2 days to 12 days and you get to see some of the most remote wilderness and incredible canyons in the world. One raft trip offers the option of doing the second highest bungee jump in the world...a whopping 160 metres. The one in New Zealand I did was 136 metres. I can't wait, I'm so excited!

So, my plan is to do the camel trek in Jaisalmer, then fly to Nepal from Jaisalmer.

Went to the internet for a while, then back to the room and watched TV all afternoon. My checkout time is 6:30, so I'm good until then.

Checked out about 6:45, started walking to the bus depot (way early!), and buddy from the hotel told me it's too early and said to just hang around the hotel, it's much better than the bus depot. So, I did.

While waiting, I headed over to the internet for a while, which is where I am right now.

Assuming nothing else happens tonight, the next journal entry will be for tomorrow.