Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nepal: Kathmandu

I am sure that you are noticing a theme since our arrival to the UAE: If there is more than 2 day weekend due to holidays, we are on a plane to somewhere. For the second Eid break, our crew decided to make it a group trip with a local tour company, Escape Travels, and it was so much fun!

Who's excited for Nepal? WE ARE! Chilling in Dubai Airport

After checking into our hotel, we met up with the entire tour group for drinks and dinner, followed by a night out on the town in the popular Thamel neighborhood. One disclaimer that I must make if you are thinking about traveling here: The Nepalese concept of 3-4 star hotels is VERY different than the Western world standards. All of our hotels were 3-4 but would have been more along the 2 star rating in the US. They were all clean, but were not quite what we were expecting. First and foremost, due to the extreme cost of energy and the poverty of the country, the hotels do not have power from 9a-5p. This means no internet or hot (an by hot, I mean tepid) water for showers. Again, not a huge deal (for us anyway, this was a huge problem for some people), but unexpected.

Allison and Adam

Chris and me

Michael likes making this face

Thamel neighborhood in Kathmandu

Michael and Allison

Me and my "Irish"...what a street vendor called him when we passed by

The boys...making it look good!

Our first morning in Nepal, the group split between the 3 activity option. Adam and I opted for hiking, while Allison, Chris, and Michael went white water rafting. THANK GOD. So, next disclaimer: The roads in Nepal are TERRIBLE. They are narrow, winding, poorly paved if at all, and filled with holes. Typically not a huge deal, but everyone is transported in minibuses that are high and narrow. This combined with the road was almost the end to me. I don't get sea sick, I only get car sick if I am in the back of a tall SUV for hours on end, but 15 minutes in Nepal and I was not doing well. Fortunately, it was only a 30 minute drive from our hotel to the trail head, whereas the rafting trip was 3 hours on worse roads than we experienced. I spent the first 45 minutes of the hike throwing up while going up the mountain. Not cool.

The hike though. That was cool. You can't come to Nepal and not hike, that is what it is known for! We started out at a temple (that was unfortunately closed to the public due to the holiday), hiking through a small village, and then finally into the mountains.

My sentiment exactly!

Terrace farming

See the prayer flags? They were EVERYWHERE!

Typical country house, sundrying some chili peppers 

The Nepalese really love their peppers

Nepalese swing

We found one of these man-made swings in every village, comprised of trees, rope, and a board. This is where all of the children could be found, playing around and waiting their turn. So simple and so fun. It was actually nice to see kids outside, running around and playing, not sitting still with their attention lost to a cell phone or iPad.

Small temple

More prayer flags!

The summit of our hike was a large temple and there were prayer flags EVERYWHERE. Some were bright and seemed recently hung, while others were weatherworn and almost bleached of color.

Adam made a pretty friend

Our hike took us up on side of a mountain and down the other. Going up was SO much better, a nice dirt trail, whereas going down was a bajillion step. I am not being dramatic either. There was literally a bajillion of them! By the time we got to the bottom my legs were quivering and refused to stop.

Casual evening walk around Kathmandu