Thursday, March 14, 2013

From DC to Nepal

I love to travel, but am not a huge fan of sitting in a huge tin can with wings for houre, hurtling at hundreds of miles per hour, miles over mountains, deserts and the seas. But the heavier-than-air shuttle somehow managed to transport me from Washington DC to Nepal, via Heathrow and Bangkok, and for that I am thankful.

DSC_0000 My first stop in DCI is always the USO. The volunteers there are always quite helpful, and manage a nice facility. Visiting them is the last touch of American domesticity I get before going through security. It's always nice to chat with a few patriotic Americans, grab a Coke and relax for a few more minutes before the insanity of intercontinental travel that lies ahead. I'm taking some photos on my trip with some tiny celebrities, especially for my middle kid. We took our first shot with the band at the Dulles USO. Then I gulped down my chemical laden, oh-so-tasty caffeinated beverage, repacked my carry-ons, and jumped shoe-free feet first into the security lines.

I'm not going to lie, I felt giddy excited and nauseated about going so far from my boys at the same time. I want to keep travelling in the future, but would like to take at least one son with me on each adventure, as well. At least to help with carrying the bags...KIDDING. Sort of kidding, anyway, ;)

DSC_0001 As tired as I was, I can't give an accurate review of Heathrow Airport. The first thing that hit me was everyone's accents. I was so tired, in my own Twighlight Zone, and felt as if I'd been zapped into the middle of an episode of BBC's Law and Order (one of my favorite shows). The Flight gates were not announced until they opened for boarding. I cracked open a bag of American made turkey jerkey and prayed I would be awake when our gate was announced. I was able to log onto the internet for free, but only for a few quick moments. Thankfully I sent off an email to my family to tell them I was safe in Heathrow. I also collected some more tiny Brits who are going to tag along on my trip (posted in the pic). Then I fell asleep. Thank the Lord that even though I fell into a deep sleep with my body draped over my purse and camera bag (arms twisted through all of the straps), I awoke literally minutes before my flight's gate was posted.

As I was booked for a window seat, I raced to my gate and immediately requested an aisle seat. Good news is not only did I get an aisle seat with no one next to me for the 11 snoozefest flight, but I caught a glimpse of my original seat, squished over a wheel well, between the window and a very large male passenger. I ate the airplane food, started one of the Twighlight movies and very quickly drifted off. I'm not a Twighlight fan, so there was absolutely no risk of me staying awake to keep up with the plot. It was snowing quite nicely when we left Heathrow. Bangkok was a different matter, half a world away.

DSC_0019 When we arrived in Bangkok, the outside temp was 80 degrees F, with variations of mugginess inside the airport. I was blown away with the gorgeousness of the airport in Bangkok, and took plenty of photos. There was plenty of opportunity to take in the beauty as we had long walks between each of the concourses. Normally that wouldn't bother me, but I was already invested 18+ hours of flight and at least 6 hours of wait time, and I was tired. I found a place to sit, log onto the internet briefly and touch base with my family, then walked around to take a few photos. After changing $20 into Thai bhat, I found the "best Italian restaurant" in the airport, had a salad and Coke zero.
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Then back onto another Thai Airways plane and on my final stretch to Nepal, whew! Only 3.5 more hours of flight, a few more mountain ranges, up into the Himalayans Mountain range, and Kathmandu was back in site! WOO HOO! The visa line was long, the customs line was longer, the bag check line was longer still. A nice Nepali baggage employee offered to help me get my bags from the belt, as well as help me through the line. Read: "A nice Nepali man looking for a good tip from Western Woman offered to take my bags for me." He read me right, I was too tired to care if I paid him a few dollars for help I didn't really need.

Well, I changed my mind and told him that I had friends waiting to help me, and a driver from the embassy. "Embassy?" There was immediately no line for me to check my bags, and we were out on the street. I paid the nice dude his few bucks and thanked him. Then I saw Wendy and Talim waiting at their vehicle and I screamed for joy! Rumpled, stinky, tired me was so happy to be back in Nepal! The sites, the sounds, the SMELLS were all so familiar! As gut wrenching as it was to leave my boys, I felt as if I was back in my "second home", a place that I fell in love with instantly last year.

DSC_0057 We drove past Pashupati on the right, where there were over one million visitors this past weekend celebrating Vishnu's birthday. The place was still crowded with visitors, stalls selling items, an explosion of color and sites as far removed from my world back home as I would otherwise think possible. On the left were people washing their clothes and other items at a water spout coming out of a hill. All over was chaos from the continual Ring Road expansion.

We took our left turn to my friends' street, passing the three lounging cows on the street corner. I recognized the shops, the houses, the apartments. And yes, again, the smells. I have arrived during manure fertilizing season. With a family farm plot just below my friends' yard, the initial smells were overwhelming. I looked out to the family plot below, and I remember the people and have noticed additions to their farm/garden. It looks as if they've built a shack/shed/stable-like building to house...cows. The past year must have done them well if they've been expanding building onto their little plot.

I'm only twelve months older than I was on my last visit, but this year I'm taking my visit a bit slower. There are things on my list that I need to do, pictures I need to take, but with not as much of a rush as I already know the lay of the land. So for these first full days on the ground we're taking life a bit easy. Yesterday we went to Phora and I had my lovely $12/45 minute massage (rough, I know). Today there is a bandh with no vehicles allowed on the roads. They are apparently striking the current government over some issue or another. After I upload this post I will walk around and take some photos of the immediate neighborhood.

I love visiting my friends, and I absolutely love Nepal. It's very good to be back. I will post more pics when able to do so, pending internet and electrical availability. You can click on any of the pictures here to bring you to my flickr album with more photos, too. PLEASE leave comments or questions, too! :)




3 comments:

  1. What a lovely adventure!
    Lisa P.

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  2. AMAZING Black and White! Love the Pentagram!

    Crystal Cochran

    ReplyDelete