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.
Sorry to lure you here under false pretenses, but this post is not nearly as romantic or sentimental as the title would make it seem. Fair warning: bodily distress of the “oh god, I am going to throw up” kind discussed in this post.
Sometimes I get a bit cocky when traveling. Despite having been to more than twenty countries and eating some pretty suspect food, I’ve only been drastically ill once. (And it wasn’t pretty, but at least I was back on my feet in a day or so.) My immune system is pretty robust. After a week in India and not a single instance of intestinal distress, I thought I’d escaped the dreaded “Delhi Belly” experience that nearly every traveler encounters. One by one, other members of the group had confessed to feeling under the weather, but I’d stayed energetic and upright. Aside from my stomach being unused to the immense amount of spices I was dumping into it, I wasn’t experiencing any major problems. Between the general catch-all stomach tablets that I was preventatively popping every morning and the UV water filter that I was using, I felt on top of the world. “My stomach is made of iron!” I thought to myself. “I am unstoppable. Come at me, India, I can take whatever you throw at me!”
Today I leave for India and Nepal, and my heart is in my throat. My body feels like a roiling storm of adrenaline and stress hormones, and no matter how much I try to quiet it down, it refuses to be still. My pulse is racing, and I cannot help but count down the hours until I can board my plane from Narita.
If you were watching me closely, you might see how my knee is jiggling and how my fingers are trembling. I catch myself smiling and though I try to compose my expression, my mouth refuses to stay in a neutral straight line. It’s been like this for several weeks. I’ve been stealing glances at the calendar, willing the days to pass by more quickly. To look at me, you would think that this is my first trip abroad, my first time on a plane, my first time using my passport. You’d think that it was a whole host of “firsts” for me. (Or maybe you just think I’m a little bit hyperactive, and maybe you’d be right.) Continue reading I Will Always Be a Rookie→