In my opinion, no trip to Nepal would be complete without catching a glimpse of Mount Everest. If I’d come all the way to Nepal, I really had no excuse for not seeing the tallest mountain in the world with my own eyes. And so, on my very last morning (or what was supposed to be my last morning, but that’s another blog post) in Nepal, I woke up bright and early to hop on an hour-long scenic flight out of Kathmandu. I thought it was a fitting way to end my journey.
A fair amount of our mornings on this trip, especially when we were traveling from place to place, had begun fairly early: six a.m. or earlier, usually before the sun had properly risen. I consider myself a morning person, so I was pretty energetic on most days, but on that last morning, when I knew I’d be seeing Everest for myself? It was all I could do to keep my excitement contained to levels considered appropriate in public. Continue reading Mount Everest Put Me in My Place (And I Didn’t Even Try to Climb It)→
I’ve driven along some pretty terrifying roads the past few years. My heart rate has gone through the roof while whizzing through late night weekend traffic in Athens. I’ve woven through potholes on a motorbike in the rural hills of Lombok in Indonesia. And I’ve sucked in my breath and willed both myself and the car I’m in thinner when winter descends upon Aomori and the roads shrink down to bare single lanes, flanked by snowdrifts that are at least a meter tall. And then there’s the mountain road between Pokhara and Kathmandu. It definitely does not seem wide enough to accommodate two cars, especially with the huge tour buses and trucks that alternately trundle and race their way along the road. Three feet to the left, and we’d have plunged to a fiery death on the rocks and fields below.
The two weeks I spent in northern India and Nepal during winter vacation gave me an endless supply of unforgettable experiences, but the single chunk of time that stands out most vividly was the half-hour I spent paragliding over Pokhara. Pokhara is a backpacker’s haven; nestled in the foothills of the Annapurna mountain range and flanked on one side by Lake Phewa, it’s the perfect base camp for extended treks and other adventuring. If you just want a small dose of adrenaline, though, a tandem paragliding flight is the activity of choice.
I love heights. Whenever I take off to a new place, I’m always hankering for a bird’s eye view. Some of the most memorable views I’ve seen around the world have been from several hundred feet in the air. Whether it’s looking out over Hong Kong from Victoria Peak, surveying London from the top of the O2 Arena, gazing out over Macau from the Macau Tower (and then bungee jumping off of it), or taking in Paris from the Eiffel Tower, the higher I am, the happier I am.
As sad as I was to leave behind the elephants and crocodile-infested waters of Chitwan, good things lay ahead in Pokhara. As we sped along roads that would through the foothills of the Annapurna and I craned my neck to catch a glimpse of the swirling aquamarine river below, one thought resonated throughout my mind with the utmost clarity: Nepal freaking rocks. Continue reading The Perfection of Pokhara→
As I’ve written again and again and again since I started this blog, I love spending time outdoors. Give me a mountain and I’ll be itching to climb it. Point me towards a sea and you’ll have to drag me out when I’m as wrinkled as a prune. And when those outdoor excursions involve elephants, crocodiles, and rhinos? It would take an epic natural disaster to wipe the grin off my face.
Because of that, Chitwan National Park was one of my favorite parts of my week in Nepal. One the first day of the New Year, we headed from Lumbini to Chitwan, and as soon as we crossed over into the park itself, my already high spirits skyrocketed. That trend continued when we arrived at our hotel, the Sapana Village Lodge.
It’s amazing how much good a solid night of sleep can do. After contracting a pretty nasty stomach bug and getting twelve or thirteen hours of sleep so deep that corpses were probably jealous, I awoke on my first morning in Lumbini, Nepal feeling approximately eight million times better. I was positively bursting with verve and vigor, a huge contract from the previous day, when I thought I was going to pass out from walking across the border to Nepal. (Forgot to mention that in my last post. At Sunauli, you make the land crossing from India to Nepal on food. So I can now technically say that I walked from one country to another!)
Unfortunately, my stomach issues were (spoiler alert) not completely over, but at the time, I was back on my feet and thrilled about it. Lumbini is a village famed for being the birthplace of the Sakyamuni Buddha, and I basically just bounced around the giant temple complex. Part of my energy came from my stomach no longer threatening to erupt, but the larger component of my excitement came from the fact that Lumbini is one of the coolest places I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.