This is a blog take over from Ma and Pa Barnes - a brief recorded highlights of our trip to Nepal. Sitting here with a day to go it seems impossible that we landed on the 19th Feb. On arrival we were met by Rose and Megs who had arranged transport - excellent to see the girlies and get our first taste of Nepalese cuisine - barefoot sitting on the floor eating Momos was a taste of things to come. It must be said that in amongst the varied delights of this country tasty food is not one of them.
Our first few days were spent at Ullens taking in the sights of Kathmandu; smog, crazy traffic, cooking chickens for sale on the pavement and colour. That really is one of the strongest images because somehow in amongst the rubbish and debris colour pervades. Driving relies on reactions and the horn - employed for a variety of unknown purposes. Taxis are tiny and the girlies have become harsh and expert barterers dismissing with ease over pricing and securing rides longer than paid for.
We booked our trips to Chitwan and Pokhara through a delightfully wide boy travel agent friend of the girls. All this has to be done in the middle of the other daily event of Nepalese life - power cuts. These are scheduled by region and you get used to wandering into dark shops which are then illuminated for your visit. The first leg of our journey was by car - a relative luxury. We witnessed the remains of several accidents and the usual horn induced overtaking that makes your hair stand on end. Everything is going slowly so, as we saw, a head on collision can be avoided by stopping and reversing in most cases with no loss of face or vehicle.
Rose and Megs had been to Chitwan for New Year and were well known! We were therefore afforded a great welcome and greeted as old friends. The dreamy canoe trip up river in the morning sun was delightful, an elephant ride a whole new experience and walking in the wide open spaces spotting kingfisher and rhino wonderful. We had spacious accommodation next to an elephant - a novel next door neighbour. As ever the food left much to be desired ranging from bony goat to something indescribable but then you don't come here to eat!
Our next trip was by bus to Pokhara - an illuminating experience. The drivers are mercifully accurate here so you quickly get used to circumstances you would be terrified about in England. We picked up all sorts on route and thus the journey time extended as we pulled in to collect extra fares.The countryside is bare with at best subsistence farming and towns are dusty and basic with a multitude of small businesses plying their trades from where they live. Pokhara is famed for its lake so we duly boated across it and took in the view of Lakeside Pokhara and paragliders swarming over the mountain tops. We took in the sunrise over the mountains requiring a very early start which as I am sure you are aware does not suit my lazy metabolism but without a doubt it was a highlight of our trip; the sun lighting up Annapurna in silence - well apart from our guide and his mobile! Between times we relaxed, strolled around Lakeside, hired a motorbike and scooter and zoomed around the lake, shopped with vicious bartering and booked a flight back to Kathmandu - one bus journey was enough!
The trip to Kathmandu by twin otter light plane was an experience - we watched the pilots through the cockpit door - their bags didn't fit in with the door shut - and looked at the mountains passing close by. The landing was category A terrifying but as Lizzie's father would say 'a good landing is one you walk away from' and we did.
In Kathmandu we have taken in temples, celebrated Meg's birthday early and relaxed with reading which has been integral to our whole trip. Tomorrow we fly back to the UK and away from the insanity of Nepal to the cold of home - it will be quite a contrast.