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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What I learned in Nepal

As done on many previous occasions here is a list of all the things I learned in Nepal:

1. Dogs here sleep during the day but bark all night (but then if they don’t bark at night the silence gets an eerie quality).

2. Toilet paper in a European managed hotel has by far superior quality.

3. Everything is better with a friendly smile and the Nepali are always smiling.

4. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of luck or 90 minutes.

5. Trekking is overrated. While I do appreciate the scenery, I prefer to race ahead and just arrive.

6. Nepali parents are co-parenting. I have seen as many fathers as mothers with their offspring.

7. Wifi that’s working is nothing more than amazing.

8. The media is always manipulating. We traveled through Nepal while my friends at home thougt the whole country was destroyed.

9. A walk through the jungle is not a piece of cake.

10. The scooters are driving on electricity. So beware of the stealth mode, they kill you silently from behind.

11. There is a lot of spitting going on. Try to get out of the spit line.

12. Sometimes the price you are willing to pay for something is a lot higher than the asking price (and as a general rule: after an earthquake there is no bargaining).

12. Main dishes in Nepal are Momos and Dal Bhat.

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

Annapurna Trekking Experience

Another early wake-up, today for our trekking experience. We had our breakfast and one more look around    IMG_1347

and then left on time at 8am to drive to our starting point.

The starting point looked easy enough, just a couple of steps leading up into the mountains. This couldn’t be so difficult.IMG_1349IMG_1348IMG_1351IMG_1352IMG_1353If you look at Sylvia at our first stop you will notice that it might have been more exhausting than expected. All in all we managed around 4000 steps.

But there were always some distractions along the way, big and small animals and little shops to buy more water. And every animal we saw was a mountain animal, so not just a goat but a mountain goat etc.IMG_1355IMG_1360 IMG_1363 Eventually we made to the halfway point or the tourist check point. Kul had to show our trekking permit and we took more pictures. IMG_1367 IMG_1370

After that more steps waited for us which we also took in stride and in the end made it to the top. Our top, which was the Australian Camp, where we were not rewarded with a great view. To our bad luck clouds were coming in and the mountains were somewhere behind them. At least we made up to the camp without rain, just 30 minutes later we watched hikers coming up in pouring rain. IMG_1371 IMG_1373 IMG_1375 IMG_1376

We moved into the restaurant and enjoyed a hearty Nepali meal, well deserved after the long trek up there. IMG_1377 IMG_1378 IMG_1379I spent the afternoon in our hut taking a nap while Sylvia played with the dog (as I had done before too). All the while it was sunny but rather cool. For dinner we refueled again with more food and more importantly carbohydrates. We needed a lot of energy for the trek down the next day. IMG_1387 IMG_1380 IMG_1381

Guess who had the pizza? We settled in our beds for the night with the sleeping bag/inner bag respectively. Since the light was not great and wifi was not working in the hut, we called it a night around 8:30 pm. IMG_1385

The next morning we woke super early to rain and fog. IMG_1386We wanted to start at 8am but had to wait for 90 minutes until the rain abated. With a light drizzle still under way we started our descent. Kul decided that we would take a shorter tour since the steps were too slick to go down all the way. So the trek down took us only an hour and we met our driver halfway. Quite unfair that they only told us after the ascent about the short-cut.IMG_1393 IMG_1394 IMG_1396 IMG_1397 IMG_1398On the way back to castle resort we made a short stop so that I could buy myself a new backpack. The one I had I was really good for traveling but definitely the wrong choice when you go hiking. Since I am planning on doing a bit more in this direction an investment was in order.

And then finally back to the hotel where we first took a shower. Hot water and fresh clothes, heaven couldn’t feel better. We also hand washed some clothes since we didn’t know what to expect in the next couple of days.
And then since we were already used to descending steps we also walked to the city. After a 15 minutes descent we arrived in Pokhara and looked for an ATM first of all. We still had to pay at the hotel, plus needed money for taxis, food and our hotel in Kathmandu if we even got there.

Everything was still up in the air, we had no passports since they were with the agency to arrange for the Tibet/China visa. When we eventually got the ok that the visa and the flight were alright we were ecstatic.
Dinner in the city was the plan, not hotel food. We settled on Mint’s Hut which had a spectacular lake view and looked reasonable clean. The food was delicious (at least for me). Sylvia had vegetable soup and fried momos which didn’t convince her, while I had Sadeko, a very spicy salad made from peanuts or in my case dried corn and thukpa, a curried vegetable soup with omelette on top.IMG_1406 IMG_1408 IMG_1409 IMG_1412 IMG_1413 IMG_1414 IMG_1417The salad was really so spicy that I had tears in my eyes and the waiter asked after if it was my first time. I must have had really puffy eyes.

For our return we spoiled ourselves and took a taxi. We were both not up to the challenge of the steps in the dark. After a discussion with the driver about his fee that ended with the driver following us into the hotel, getting a cup of tea and an open ear from a fellow Nepali, we went to bed. Yours, Pollybert