(Disclaimer: not my photo! Haven't taken any yet!).
I've decided to revive my blog after 3 years (almost to the day - spooky!) although we'll see how it goes. As most of you know, I write these accounts mainly for myself and my failing memory so they tend to be candid. If you don't like that, I can remove you from my list!! Photos will be posted separately as and when I can.
So, due to a number of deadlines on uni assignments, I didn't really have a chance to realise the enormity of my trip until Sunday night when the panic set in. After a rocky start on Monday morning which involved me breaking, and falling off, the toilet seat at home, I was finally on my way. I wasn't filled with too much confidence at Brisbane airport as the check-in lady appeared to have been drafted in off the street that morning. The process took around 10 minutes and when I asked if she was sure everything was ok and that my bags would get there (horror stories in my head of my friend who did this trip a few years ago and the airline lost all his expensive gear enroute!), even she didn't seem too sure. Then got 'selected' at security to go through a full body scan (I never seem to get selected to win a grand prize or anything useful like that) and had to shake my trousers so many times and take so many things off that I actually asked if I was going to have to stand there naked at any point. I think they were then so embarrassed that the equipment was evidently not doing what it was designed to, that they let me through.
Next stop: Bangkok for the night. Stayed in a dodgy 'resort' near the airport which served its purpose then headed back to the airport on Tuesday morning. Now, I consider myself a very seasoned traveller, but I admit I made a rookie error on this occasion. Apparently, despite a 14 hour layover, I was not technically allowed to leave the airport (I had my bags so fail to see why not as I was only checked in as far as Bangkok) and was meant to spend all that time in the transit area on a plastic chair, so I got into trouble and had to pay a $35 penalty accompanied by a lecture on not leaving the airport on my return journey. Harrumph. Note to airlines and travel brokers - you need to tell people these things!!
As we neared Kathmandu it became clear that I had not done my research properly and I was sitting on the wrong side of the plane as everyone on the other side could see the Himalayas and Everest. b******s! It was spectacular even from my side, however, and I felt a little overwhelmed at the scale of the mountains. I hope I don't make a fool of myself and burst into tears on the trek! Those of you who know me well know my cry baby tendencies so I think we all know the answer to that!
Got to the guesthouse where I lost my temper (doesn't sound like me, does it?!) as they wanted to downgrade me to a crappy room with a shared bathroom. Er....no. Given that I will be sharing windy cupboards with people over the next 2 weeks and not have the opportunity to shower, I wanted to take advantage of my own facilities for my first night. Got my way, of course, and then went for a wander. My goodness, it is dusty here. I might need to get myself a surgical mask, otherwise I can see myself getting sick before we even start. It's also hotter than I expected at 30 degrees. I didn't go far, although far enough to get a bit lost so I ended up on a rooftop bar drinking the local brew, Gorkha Beer. This was mainly due to the fact that I'd had a blonde moment and forgotten to put the batteries in my camera and also was struggling to avoid people gobbing on me so needed to figure out my avoidance strategy! One guy didn't look where he was spitting and it ended up on the head of a very perturbed dog who had been having a nice nap. Reminds me a lot of India here so ask me in a day or so how I'm feeling! There are cows everywhere although evidently not seen as sacred as they are in India as the car in front of us on the way from the airport ran over a cow's foot! Ow!! The traffic is marginally less chaotic too although the streets are so narrow that you fling yourself into the gutter (full of spit!) every time someone honks their horn. I may not sound it by this account, but I'm already about 25% more chilled than I was 48 hours ago! I'm hoping to behave a little less blonde tomorrow and get myself somewhere to see some stuff before meeting my group in the afternoon. It's a tall order as there are no street names or signs but I think I'm up to it.
Anyway, here are a few interesting facts about Nepal, just to whet your appetite for now:
- It was New Year's Day yesterday so I've decided to adopt this as my new year too as the last 3 months have been a bit disappointing. Happy New Year!
- There is a very weird time zone here. I thought India was odd with its half hour effort but here it's 15 minutes so as I write this it is 18.20 in Kathmandu and 22.35 in Brisbane! Apparently it's because they don't want to be the same as India.
- It's a monogamous society here EXCEPT if your wife doesn't bear you a child within your first 10 years of marriage. Only then can you go out and get yourself a second wife!
- Women used to have to throw themselves on their dead husband's pyre as a sign of respect and sorrow. Now they just have to marry their husband's brother. Not sure what happens if he is an only child, only has sisters or the brother is already married though?
- During their period, women used to be banished to the cowshed for 4 days. This was only made illegal in 2005!!
It's now 9pm and I've just got back after a curry and garlic naan ("Bread? W'garlic?" for you fellow Peter Kay fans out there) and I braved some red wine which was surprisingly ok. I'll confirm that tomorrow if I manage to sleep through the night without delving into my medicine cabinet!
So, as I lie in bed with only partial electricity watching Armageddon on TV (TV and bathroom light work, as does wifi......rest of lights and sockets do not - go figure), I shall bid you namaste. Next update may be the last for a while as I meet my group tomorrow then we start walking on Thursday and I'm not sure where the power and internet stops.
Nerves are diminishing although still a bit of apprehension in the air, mainly due to the fact that I don't feel at all prepared, mentally or physically. Excitement and emotion are definitely taking over now though.........more news to come!