It’s been kind of a down week, in the sense that compared to hiking hours on end everyday, I’ve replaced that with eating hours on end each day. I really enjoyed being back in Thamel, a section of Kathmandu with terrific eats – Mexican, Turkish, Italian food – I do love the food there.
On the 28th, I rented a bike and went to Bhaktapur – an unpleasant hour plus ride along the highway. Bhaktapur was attractive. I had a difficult time following Lonely Planet’s guided walking tour around the town, but luckily I had three boys following me around asking everyone in sight where everything was. Besides poorly written directions, what also made finding my way difficult was that sections of the walk were just “gone.” The earthquake had tremendously altered the landscape. Tops of temples were gone and could not be identified, streets and alleyways were gone. Very sad. The boys quit at dark before I had finished the tour and asked for money. Had they held out, maybe I would have bought them candy or something. They were super helpful and spoke great English. Great schools I suppose in Bhaktapur.
I spent the rest of my time eating meals at my hotel until mid-afternoon the next day, entertained by a French primary school teacher who struggled with her English and who found the cool Nepal temperatures disagreeable. And annoyed by the young boys who returned excitedly in the morning after they found out there was no school because of a bus strike.
On the way out of town, I tried to stop to watch a girls soccer game at a school, but an armed guard prohibited me from entering. “Very strict here,” the school boys in the vicinity told me. But a moment later, a man came up to me and said he could get me on the permission list across the street if I wanted to watch the game. “No, that’s alright,” I told him. “I just wanted to watch a few minutes. Never mind. It’s ok. Thanks anyways.” The ride back to Kathmandu took longer as it was uphill and I tried to use the side streets as much as possible instead of using the highway. No busses because of the strike made it more pleasant though.
I met Brendon and Sarah for dinner that night and it was good to catch up with them and hear about the rest of their trek. They had flown out of Lukla before I had arrived. They flew out for India on Wednesday.
The night after, I had dinner with Ashley and Clutch, and I ran into Cool Ranch the day I flew out.
I went to the barber on departure day and what an experience that was! A real good haircut and the first time I’ve gotten a public shave. What skill with the blade. Boy they put all sorts of lotions on you. They massage your head, sometimes my ears rang when he hit me on the top of the head a few times. all part of the experience. Then a back massage and even a chiropractic adjustment. Seriously!
The flight went quite smoothly. Only upon my arrival in Thailand I learned that the FAA had downgraded Thai Airlines from a Category 1 Safety record. Glad I found that out AFTER my flight instead of BEFORE. Because of my medication, I never remember much of flights. But I do remember peering out the window from the middle row and seeing the Himalayas in all their glory. I was disappointed that I didn’t have a window seat because it would have been fun to try to identify the mountains. What an amazing site!
I made my way through the Bangkok metro system and arrived at the train station to get an overnight train to Chang Mai. They didn’t have anymore sleepers but 2nd class coach was plenty comfortable with reclining seats and plenty of leg room. I nodded off at the train station before the train departed and consider myself lucky that I woke up before it left. I slept through till the morning waking up to the lush jungle and mountains out the window.
I’ve spent the past two nights in Chang Mai. Good food abounds here. It was 90 degrees today. I lounged in the hotel pool and hit three museums. I decided to put off buying a bike until Luang Prabang. On to Laos tomorrow.