What I learned in Tibet

This has also become a regular feature on my blog. Here are my observations from Tibet.

1. There is a police station/desk every corner. So carrying your passport and visa is a mandatory.

2. Sweet tea with yak milk is heavenly. Just don’t look too closely on what it’s served in.

3. People in Lhasa wear more face masks than in Beijing (said Sylvia and I now have to agree).

4. I should have bought a yak shawl while in Kathmandu. Never mind, too late now.

5. The Tibetans eat solely with a spoon.

6. The smell of the butter in the temples is almost intoxicating.

7. Also the butter is spilled everywhere in the temples, so get used to sticky feet.

8. There are only so many monasteries you can watch.

9. If you are wondering what kind of philosophical questions a monk might have for you, the monk we saw wanted to know if I color my hair.

10. The Chinese in Tibet were the unfriendliest of all of China. Maybe because they know they don’t belong there?

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The doors of Nepal

As done already on previous occasions here are the doors (and door frames) of Nepal. Since we only visited Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Chitwan and Pokhara I make no claim for it to be complete. Furthermore these are only examples on the Nepalese door style. I might put a manhole cover somewhere in between, so beware. Yours, Pollybert IMG_0530 IMG_0544 IMG_0545 IMG_0559 IMG_0564 IMG_0565 IMG_0567 IMG_0573 IMG_0585 IMG_0593 IMG_0599 IMG_0610 IMG_0614 IMG_0637 IMG_0638 IMG_0640 IMG_0665 IMG_0737 IMG_0819 IMG_0828 IMG_0858 IMG_0882 IMG_0900 IMG_0904 IMG_1012 IMG_1447

 

 

Crossing borders

One last breakfast at the Castle Resort, a quick goodbye to the dogs and our host Sofia and we were off to the airport. IMG_1440IMG_1420IMG_1418With only an hour delay we made the short flight to Kathmandu were nobody waited for us.IMG_1423 IMG_1424 IMG_1430We had ordered a driver from our hotel which was still operating, but the driver didn’t wait that long. Understandable in all this commotion at the airport. We got ourselves a taxi and drove to the hotel. What a difference this week made. Lots of people have fled the city after the quake and there was little traffic. On the other hand we also didn’t see a lot of destruction. Just a lot of tents all over the golf course and any other parks.IMG_1437 IMG_1442Upon our arrival at the Home Annex Hotel we were greeted with a cup of tea and the strongest wifi we had experienced so far on this trip.

I used my time to update the blog and then we made our way outside to find something to eat. IMG_1439 IMG_1461

We walked around for a bit and found some examples that also our district Thamel was hit by the earthquake but all the damage looked small compared to the pictures on TV. IMG_1445

We finally went to a restaurant just around the corner from our hotel. Fren’s Kitchen had a lovely garden and we and another tourist couple were the only guests. I tried a couple of new things, something fried with a spicy sauce and an Indian butter cheese dish. Maybe a bit on the heavy side but good nonetheless.IMG_1462 IMG_1456Sylvia went for her usual vegetable soup but had vegetable Dal Bhat instead of the momos.IMG_1454 IMG_1457

We went back to the hotel after the meal and had a good night’s sleep. After another interesting breakfast IMG_1486

 

the driver from the day before was bringing us to the international airport. The streets were again empty even more so than yesterday. IMG_1468 IMG_1469

We spent at least three hours at the airport waiting for our flight. Not that it was delayed but of course we wanted to be on time and the the drive was way shorter than expected. Nevertheless in the end we boarded our plane and after a disgusting meal we arrived in Lhasa.IMG_1824There we had to show our passports and visa twice andSylvia had to say goodbye to her Ghorka knives at the customs (no weapons allowed into China). Not the warmest welcome in this high situated city. At least our guide looked sympathetic to our plight.IMG_1502 IMG_1489 Already the air was a lot cooler and the sky immensely blue. The mountains around us looked brown and sandy with a white dusting of snow on top.  IMG_1490 IMG_1492 IMG_1495

The drive to the city took upon an hour on a very new and scenic road. Before checking into our hotel we had to make a stop at the travel agency to pay for our flight to Lhasa. There we were offered tea and advised to drink a lot due to the height and the very dry air. Also we shouldn’t shower this first evening. The reason behind it we didn’t really understand but found it funny nonetheless. IMG_1499

 

And then it was time to check into the Tibet Hotel which also offered hourly rates.IMG_1500 IMG_1503We managed to get the wifi password (sounds so simple now but took about 30 minutes including a visit from house keeping) and then set out to get cash and find a place to eat. This was all done in no time and we decided to splurge again and went for dinner at a hot pot place. With no language skills but with the help of a little dictionary we picked out the produce from the buffet that we wanted to throw in the soups. The choice was between vegetable soup with sausage and spicy oil. IMG_1505

Sylvia used only the oil and later paid a high price for it. Not only woke we both up during the night with a splitting headache but she was sick as well. Not such a promising start to our Tibet adventure. Yours, Pollybert

Going to Chitwan 

The next morning we got ready and carried our bags the five floor down ourselves. I definitely had packed too much, the thing weighted 18kg at check-in in Vienna. We got it all down and deserved a good breakfast for it. In the cosy courtyard we ordered porridge with fruits and tea. IMG_0984

Not long after our driver came and brought us to the airport in Kathmandu. We were a bit early and had to wait in the hall until our flight was up on the board.IMG_0989
This time I had my passport copy ready (our passports are with the agency to secure the China visa) and we got our boarding passes without a problem. One more coffee and we were up in the air.IMG_0990

Even on a short flight like this (flying time was 30 minutes) we got water and a sweet. In no time at all we arrived at Bharatpur airport.IMG_0991
Madan, our guide from the Hermitage Hotel, was already waiting for us at the small arrival area and after a little discussion if we were staying at his hotel (but since no other two female tourists were on board, it was clear that it was us) we made the 30 minutes drive into the Chitwan National Park. Here we would stay for a three day – two nights jungle tour.

We arrived at the hotel and were told to get settled in our cabin and then come for lunch. I had just taken a picture for Facebook and was getting ready to go outside when all of a sudden everything started to shake violently. Sylvia called to get outside and join her which I did after I locked the door. We stood on the lawn in front of the bungalows, joined by two German guys who lived next door and waited through the earthquake. It was a weird feeling but none of us were frightened since nothing happened except that the earth shook. So when it was finally over (took ages for the first quake) we talked about how strong it could have been while I took some pictures of the garden. Sylvia just hoped that it would not get in the media.IMG_1002

Eventually we made it for lunch where we joined a Chilean couple on the terrace. During the main course the second quake hit and I was more frightened by the screaming waiter who urged us to follow him down into the garden. Which we girls did while the guy from Chile kept on eating. I think Sylvia was more afraid that she couldn’t finish her meal. I know all this sounds weird to you especially after the quake made headlines all over the world and so many lives were lost. The  ramifications of it were not clear to us at the moment, but in hindsight we were super lucky. 90 minutes can make a huge difference.

We spend the afternoon in the garden looking down at the river and hoping for a crocodile to magically appear. Sylvia checked the internet and by then the quake had already made it into the news while was trying to update my blog (I am way behind, sorry).IMG_1004IMG_1006

Around 4pm we got ready for our village walk with Madan. We saw some traditional houses from an ethnic group that came into this region from the mountains. They built their houses from mud fortified with reeds which they also use as a roof. But since the reeds need to be changed after the monsoon more and more were covered with a corrugated sheet.

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On the walk through the village I finally got some stamps and Sylvia another Ghorka knife. And we saw some interesting transportations.IMG_1018
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The walked lead us to the river where we spotted our first rhino footprint, easily recognizable but its three toe nails which leave a distinct imprint. The elephant by the way  has five toes in front and four in the back. We walked along the river to spot some more birds (mostly too late for me to take a picture) and to get a feeling for the national park.IMG_1024IMG_1025
The destination for the village walk was the elephant station where the park rangers where training the animals. These elephants would come to warn us whenever another quake hit.IMG_1030IMG_1036
On the walk back the light had already a beautiful quality and the sunset looked very romantic. We made it back in time to have the last of sun at the hotel while enjoying a cup of coffee as sundowner (ok, maybe I had a beer).IMG_1048

Dinner was a tasty affair with the typical Nepali Dal Bhat and a picture for the worried relatives at home.IMG_1051
And to top this day we attended a cultural show at the village center. The tourists from all over the park got brought here to watch this typical dancing spectacle.IMG_1054
There were more quakes during the night and Sylvia felt each and every one while I missed most of them. I appear to be very insensitive in regards to tremors (and maybe other stuff too). We got woken by an elephant for a larger one during the night which I felt as well this time. But both of us made no move to leave our bed, we already knew that nothing would happen to us at Chitwan National Park.
Yours, Pollybert

Impressions of Bhaktapur*

Since Bhaktapur was lovely and we walked around for quite a bit, here some more impressions from the beautiful city.
Yours, Pollybert

* all pictures taken on April 24

Here you can learn the unique craft of panting, I wonder where exactly I should put that to good use?IMG_0866
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The women here are lining up to get water from the public fountain, sometimes they have to wait for hours because only a trickle comes out.IMG_0946
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