Friday, February 5, 2016

Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset in the Himalayas

I would like to preface everything about Nepal by saying that Nepal was my favorite place that I've ever been. It has stolen my heart and I want to return as soon as possible. It is one of the most physically beautiful places I've ever been and the people are wonderful.

The morning I flew to Kathmandu from Bangkok, I woke up bright and early and headed to the airport. I wanted to arrive early just in case there were long lines. I also hadn't been to the airport yet, so I wanted to make sure I left myself enough time to wander the airport lost and confused. This proved to be unnecessary because there was no line and the airport was extremely easy to navigate. I walked up to the desk with no one in front of me. I believe this was due to the fact that there were maybe 50 people on the flight, even though it was in an enormous plane (one of those with the 3-5-3 seat arrangements). I was surprised it even took off!

The sketchy tourist visa

The flight was great! I chose my seat on the side of the plane where you could see Mt. Everest. It was extremely beautiful! I also realized everything I'd imagined about Mt. Everest was wrong. I'd always imagined Everest as a mountain like Mt. Rainier--A loan, enormous mountain among smaller mountains. Somehow, I didn't realize that it was only a little bit taller than the nearby mountains, so you can't spot it very easily from afar. There are 7 mountains above 8000 meters and 11 that are above 7000 meters. So, in the pictures to the left, one of those mountains is Everest. I think...

The flight into Kathmandu airport was beautiful as well! The mountains and the weather were perfect!

I'd done a lot of research about what to do when I arrived in Kathmandu's airport. Everything I read said that it was confusing, difficult to navigate and your baggage might be thrown around by strangers. This meant that I stressed about my arrival for weeks. I arrived, put my information into the computer and had my travel visa (which looked extremely sketchy and unofficial) within 20 minutes. I then walked to the baggage claim, picked up my bag immediately and headed outside. It was an extremely easy process.

I had arranged with my hotel a pick up, since the first place I was staying was about an hour outside of Kathmandu and up in the mountains. I went outside the airport to the pickup spot and it was complete chaos!!! It took a few minutes to find the taxi holding my name, but I finally did. A man who was associated with my taxi driver grabbed my suitcase and wouldn't give it back. I wasn't concerned he would steal it, but I knew he would want me to give him money when he handed it back to me. I was annoyed. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. I didn't have any Nepalese rupees yet, however, so I couldn't give him any money anyway. But still.

It would seem he was a sketchy taxi driver, because he had me pay him directly, but the hotel later was completely unaware that he'd done that. He called the taxi driver and there was a bit of yelling. Luckily, they didn't make me pay for the taxi a second time! Not the best entrance into Nepal, but I wasn't traumatized.

The drive into the mountains from the airport was interesting. We passed Bhaktapur, an old area outside of Kathmandu, slums, women carrying laundry down from the mountains, goats, cows etc. The roads had a lot of potholes and were pretty narrow, so the drive was narrow, but it was so beautiful! There were valleys and villages and mountains! An amazing combination!

I arrived at the hotel, which had the most incredible view of the Himalayas. Possibly, one of the most incredible views ever! I arrived, put my things in my room, then spent some time with some flight attendants from Malaysia who were enjoying the view and sunset before going back to the airport to fly back to Malaysia.

This is the building where my hotel room was. It was slightly unfinished. Somehow, my room was actually quite nice! Very clean, running water and a very comfortable queen sized bed. Granted, the water was ice cold, but there was water!

The bird was perfectly perched for this photo.
The Himalayas!! Once I arrived in Nepal, I was extremely, extremely glad that I took my camera lens with the intense zoom.

I ate dinner at the hotel, which included some fantastically delicious milk tea, then watched the sunset with an 8 year old girl named Aushka, who spoke fairly good English. She was the niece of the hotel owner and her entire family was staying for the evening. Their stay included a fantastic party and BBQ that night.

The sunset was quite beautiful! There was a rickety staircase you could climb to the roof of the hotel to get a full 360 degree view around the hotel. It was incredible. I spent much of my stay on that roof!

I was being slightly creepy with my intense lens.

The beginning of the sunset.

The fabulous sunset.

I know there are a ton of pictures, but it's hard to choose which ones are my favorite!

When we woke up the next morning, there was a lot more snow on the mountains. It was pretty school to see the difference!


The rolling hills around the hotel!

These are the rickety stairs!

I went to bed that evening. Good heavens it was unbelievably cold! I slept with my hat, gloves, winter coat and several pairs of socks on and was still freezing! I discovered the next day I could ask for hot water bottles at night. I made great use of those the following two nights. But, for one night, I froze completely.

It was like camping in a comfortable bed.
I woke up bright and early the next morning to watch the beautiful sunrise with the family of the owner. There were approximately 30 of us on the roof. It was a sturdy roof.

It was so majestic!

The sunrise was great!

This is Aushka. The family was singing/praying and lighting candles, which made for an amazing experience.

He was the man primarily doing the singing.

Here I am! Enjoying the sunrise!

I went back to sleep for a little bit, ate breakfast and headed into town! But that will be for the next blog!

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