Cesca's big adventure
Spent a couple of lazy days in Kathmandu sampling the great Nepalese cuisine, German bakeries and, as usual, the excellent shopping. Also visited Pashupatinath with its cremation ghats along the Bagmati river, and Swoyambu (the monkey temple). Joined up with a group to travel through Tibet, so on to Lhasa we flew. First day or so was good and then I fell to altitude sickness which made me feel pretty grotty for a couple of days until I acclimatised. Managed to see a few monasteries in and around Lhasa, including the Potala Palace (Dalai Lama's winter palace) and Gandon monastery where I walked the quora (about and hour and a half around the monastery mountain). Went to the Jokhang in Lhasa with hundreds of Tibetans walking the quora (walking in a clockwise direction around the site of the Jokhang whilst spinning their prayer wheels and beads) and prostrating themselves on the ground in prayer. We then moved on through Gyantse and Shigatse sampling monasteries, extremely basic toilets, Yaks, and Tibetan Cuisine on the way. Then for the exciting bit - up to Everest Base Camp for the night, a couple of hours walking and some pretty thin air, more basic toilets and no running water (not uncommon in rural Tibet hence children here are pretty grubby). The views were spectacular and I am really pleased I made it up there. Took tons of pictures which I will try to upload when I get to Delhi. Then we headed back to Kathmandu where I sampled more delights of the valley (Patan and Durbar Square and the old part Bhaktapur with its large markets). Here I joined a guide and a team of porters to head off trekking in Nepal. A few days hard walking and camping in the beautiful countryside was good for the soul. Walked through lots of local villages taking photos of all the children I met along the way (who giggled with delight when they saw themselves on my little digital screen) and even got a local woman to show me how to make delicious Nepalese pickle. She was giving some to her neighbours to taste when I decided to join in the tasting. I liked it so much that she made some for my dinner and let me watch and take notes! I also headed out to Chitwan National Park for some rhino watching. Being the low season I was, at times, the only person in the park - so I had the domestic elephants all to my self and I delighted in climbing up on one and clinging onto her ears as she stood up. I also had the 30-month-old baby elephant (Sanikali - meaning little beautiful) eat bananas from my hand and then wander over every so often to investigate my hands with her trunk in the hope of more. Spent a really peacefully few days reading, watching the elephants graze, game viewing by canoe, jeep and on elephant back. Also had the telly rigged up for the world cup final (around midnight) for which the generator died during half time, though luckily they were able to get it started again in time. So back to Kathmandu for a few days pottering around and tomorrow I fly to busy Delhi....