Day 1: August 7
A Wednesday. I made my way to the airport. I try to get a boarding pass. I am denied a boarding pass because I will be in China for 48 hours and do not have a visa. How could I be so ill prepared?? WELL, let me tell you. This airline CHANGED my itinerary without so much as an email by an entire 24 hours. So instead of one overnight layover in my favourite country I had 2, and now had an illegal trip planned. Great, wonderful. So on Day 1 I spent 2 hours at
the airport talking to the ticketing agent debating whether it was their fault or my fault or the website I booked through's fault. Eventually she booked me a new ticket to leave the NEXT day, with my original itinerary. So I was a day late getting to Nepal. Annoying, but whatever. I left the airport and went downtown to find my friend Steph, have some drinks, and go back to the airport the next day.
Day 2: August 8
This day I DO get on a plane going to China. Horray! Everybody knows I love China. This day is uneventful though. I WAS on the same plane as a minor K pop group that had about 10 eager fans waiting for them in China haha.
Day 3: August 9
2 more flights this day. No problem. Arrive to Kathmandu with 1 million Chinese tourists. When I got to the airport Abby was waiting for me!! YAY! We jumped in the van that the hostel sent to pick us up and started catching up. We didn't know at the time, but the hostel staff guy who had come along to do the pick up was to become a BFF by the end of our stay. As we drove through the streets of Kathmandu I was struggling to take everything in and focus on the conversation. Since Abby had been living in India she was used to all the action, colours and cows on the streets, but I was overwhelmed for a couple days haha. While we were driving, Om, our soon to be BFF was telling us about a tour that he was going to be leading starting tomorrow. There were 2 Saudi Arabian men who were also in Nepal for a short time and had booked a private jeep to drive them to all the major sites. These happened to be all of the places we had hoped to see. AND, the offer was that we wouldn't have to pay the transportation. At all. Abby and I contemplated the pros and cons. Pros- CHEAP Cons- strange men, in a jeep, in an unfamiliar country, for 6 days and 5 nights. Someone else's schedule. Obviously the pros outweighed the cons so we agreed to tag along. We spent the night drinking beer and chatting with locals and guests in the hostel bar.
|View from Bandipur|
We woke up in time for a nice breakfast, then packed up our stuff and got in the jeep to set off on our unexpected adventure. We picked up the Saudi guys at their FANCY hotel (it had a god damned fountain I tell you) and were on our way. Only one of them could really speak English. At certain points during this trip, Om and the driver would be speaking Nepali, the 4 Saudis would be speaking Arabic, and me and Abby would look at each other and be like "TRIPPING OUT" hahaha. ANYWAY, we set off for our first stop, Bandipur. Bandipur is a TINY little village at the top of a mountain about halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara. It takes maybe 40 minutes just to drive up the mountain.The drive there was of course beautiful, bumpy and tiring. But it was worth it when we got there. Unfortunately, these Saudi guys were a little high maintenance. The wifi in the hotel wasn't working and they insisted that a better hotel be found for them. Abby and I were like "well we've already killed two roaches so we're pretty invested in this place". Abby and I busted out the cards and beer, and when Om came back him and then also the guy working at the hotel joined in. I taught them speed, cheat and spoons. So much success. So much beer. When we turned in for the night, Abby found a big roach on her pillow and slept in my bed with me even though I killed it with my shoe.
|Swimming! That's our boat|
We had to wake up kind of early on this day, or so I remember. Had a nice breakfast and paid our bill which should have been small, but ended up being huge because of all the beer we bought haha. Then we left to go find the Saudi guys at their other hotel further up the hill. Then we were off! To Pokhara! On the way there we could tell Om was stressed out, and eventually it was revealed that there was a problem at the hotel the Saudi guys were staying at. They had booked 4 separate deluxe rooms, but the hotel only had two available. Two of them would have to sleep in regular rooms (which still had TVs and AC and hot showers). This caused a bit of a problem, and when we got to their hotel it took them like, and hour and a half or something crazy like that to sort it all out. Abby and I found a tree by the lake and chilled out for the duration. Then, when everything appeared to be ok, we went to OUR much more affordable and much less air conditioned guest house. We reconvened that afternoon, rented a purple paddle boat and went for a swim in the lake. The water was so so so lovely and we had A LOT of fun. Later that night we ditched the Saudi guys and headed to a local bar. Pokhara is Om's (the guide) hometown so he knew a good spot to go. Then we taught the cheat game to Om's uncle (who was also the guesthouse owner) and did the same thing we did the night before but also we had wine this time. There were no roaches this time and Abby and I slept in separate beds haha.
Day 6: August 12
|Om's nephew and the stupa|
|Where we ate lunch|
Day 7: August 13
The Saudi guys went in these little tiny planes flying around the mountains super early this day. Abby and I slept. We did nothing. We meant to go shopping and we didn't even do that. When they were done it was time to get on the road again. We were headed to Chitwan National Park. For elephants.I think the drive there was uneventful. Everybody was asleep...there were three of us hungover and exhausted haha. Om convinced Abby to jump under a roadside waterfall and she fell and got TOTALLY soaked. That was eventful. Then I had to sit next to her in the cramped Jeep and I got wet too :( We eventually made our way out of the mountains. The change was practically instant. All of a sudden is was flat as a prairie. We got to our resort at Chitwan and were SO excited. It was so so so beautiful. The Saudi guys OF COURSE had a problem...they only had 2 rooms booked for them instead of 4 separate rooms. It eventually got sorted out and we left for our first walk around the village. We saw some elephants, and a crocodile infested river.That night was uneventful, we were all soooooo exhausted from the day/night before and had a busy day the next day.
Day 8: August 14
|Tiger foot print|
After the safari, we were back at the guesthouse. The Saudi guys had decided to buy a local goat and slaughter it Halal style and cook it up for dinner. I fully admit to being a eater of animals but not a killer. Dirty hypocrite. I watched them skin it, but as soon as the started cutting it up I was like "see ya!" We went to a cultural performance held by the villagers. The Saudi guys skipped that one too. It was really amazing. It was rhythmic stick dancing...? Like 12-15 people, all with sticks, then they'd dance in a circle and do these complex stick hitting patterns. Our minds were blown. So much practice and coordination. Then we went home and ate the goat. Post goat we busted out the cards and the spoons and got EVERYBODY in on a game of spoons, even the guys from the national park. It was the last night of our little tour and it went out with a bang.Of course infidels busted out some beer to go along with it haha.
Day 9 August 15
The three of us suffering from hangovers AGAIN, we loafed around a bit in the morning, but finally got our shit together and got on the road back to Kathmandu. This was a really really uneventful day. We ended up stuck in an 8 hour traffic jam. It's supposed to take like 4 hours to get from Chitwan to Kathmandu but it took 10. It was like 7 hours to go 25 km. I tried to sleep for as much as it as possible and Abby busted out her book. We were ready for some alone time at that point. We got back to Kathmandu, ate some pizza, and PASSED OUT.
Day 10 August 16
Woke up, still exhausted. The Saudi guys had invited us to go out sightseeing with them but we politely declined. When we finally got our asses moving we jumped in a taxi and headed to Bhaktapur City to see some old stuff. We were not disappointed. Lots of picturesque stuff going on. We walked around until we were exhausted. We did some shopping in the tourist district in Kathmandu, then chilled in the hostel, played cards and drank. I had tripped walking down some temple stairs and rolled my ankle, and by the night I could barely walk on it. Luckily it was just a temporary injury and I was fine the next day.
Took forever to get our asses out of bed again. This time we headed to the Kathmandu Durbar Square to go see the living goddess. I forget her name but if you google "living goddess Nepal" I'm sure you'll get a tonne of hits. Anyway, it's this little like 8 year old girl that is a reincarnation of a goddess. You walk into her temple and she appears at the window and stares at you sullenly for like 10 seconds, drops some flowers on your head if that's what you're into and then she goes away again. The whole experience was super fast, and surreal. Abby and I needed some time to wrap our heads around what we had just witnessed. So we went into this museum that we could get into for free just because it was free. Turned out to be a museum dedicated to this old king. It was ALL of his things. His hats, his phone, his clothes, his toothbrush, his typewriter, every picture of him ever taken. And we couldn't get out. We were stuck in a maze of the King for like an hour. When we finally escaped we just chilled and enjoyed the view from one of the temples. Then it was time to go to the SPA!! We had met a guy named Manohj at our hostel a few nights before, and he worked at a spa where he could get us a discount! YAAAAAY!!! We each got hour long massages and then facials for like $20. I think we also both passed out during haha. It was fantastic and we felt like we really needed it. After the spa we met up with Manohj and went out to a bar. A bar called Purple Haze. You bet there was a band playing Rage Against the Machine and Metallica covers there. Oh yes. That was a lot of fun, and a lot of beer was consumed yet again.
Day 12 August 18
Leaving Day! OR IS IT!? I had this paranoia deep in my gut that only anxious people can understand. I called the website I booked my tickets to to re re confirm my flight. "Sorry, it's been canceled. But you still have your flight from China to Seoul!" WHAT THE CRAP!?!? So Abby got on her flight and I was stranded in Kathmandu an extra day. I totally cried at the airport saying goodbye. I miss my friends in Canada, and I don't know when the next time I see Abby will be :( The Nepali guys were like "white people always cry, don't you know that is the life!?" Anyway, back to me, with no flight home. The airline offices aren't open on Sundays, so I couldn't even talk to them until the next day. So I spent the day shopping and mailing letters and hanging out at the hostel and trying not to stress.
Day 13 August 19
I woke up early to call the airline to get stuff sorted out. China Eastern is the MOST USELESS airline I have ever dealt with. Nobody could help me. Their advice was just to show up at the airport in time for the next flight leaving and they would sort it out. Those of you who've ever flown into or through China know that this is a bad idea. But I had no choice. I managed to get a boarding pass to China, but the guy, the guy who WORKS for the airline, couldn't tell me how I was getting the rest of the way to Korea. Wonderful, I'll just pass that along to the Chinese immigration authority shall I? I'm sure they'll be cool with that. So he gave me a letter. And against my better judgement I got on a plane to China without any proof of having a ticket out of China. Of course, of course of course, I get there, and it's a HUGE problem. I pleaded with them to please call the airline, and that if they didn't already have tickets for me out of China within 24 hours I would yell at them until they did.They managed to get ahold of my itinerary finally, and I discovered I had a flight to Shanghai the next morning, THEN a flight to Seoul. The airline "kindly" put me up in a hotel for free. This hotel was 30 -40 minutes from the airport, didn't have wifi, and didn't know how to call a taxi. And I was there for a total of only 4 hours.
Day 14 August 20
Mary is VERY disgruntled by this time. Gets on flight. Day passes uneventfully. Get to Seoul at about 6pm.
Recap- It was awesome. The flights were really really really messed up, but it couldn't be so bad as to ruin my whole trip...just the plane part. I think that's long enough for now, maybe in a couple weeks I'll do a one year reflection blog (cuz it's been a year how crazy is that OMG)