Hold on tightly and pray a lot
After an amazing seven day tour through Tibet I'm now hanging out in Kathmandu, Nepal! Mount Everest was definitely the highlight of the trip, and was the most astonishing site I've seen in my life.
It was damn cold up in base camp, but I could have stayed there for months. Coming in second was the Tibetan people, who are absolutely amazing! After so much difficulties with the Chinese government over the past half century they all have smiles on their faces. They were extremely friendly and hospitable people. While we were staying in a monastery a couple miles from Everest base camp nightfall came and we ended up dancing with the local Tibetans until midnight. They were absolutely loving every minute of it. They especially enjoyed my camera when I was snapping shots of them dancing and singing.
I ended up taking several night shots at base camp as well. The stars were so bright that you could see the milky way perfectly.
The Tibet tour ended in Zhangmu, China, which is a town that is built on a very steep mountain on the border of Nepal. It was a pretty interesting ride from inner Tibet to the outer border region as the roads got narrower and the weather got shittier. It was gorgeous blue skies every day while we were in Tibet, but once we arrived near Zhangmu we ran into very cloudy and foggy conditions. This made for a pretty hellish ride down to Zhangmu as the gorge which we were driving through was massive. That drive, however, doesn't even compare to the thrill ride I had from The China-Nepal border to Kathmandu. I heard that the roads weren't great here in Nepal, which is understandable, but the way people ride buses is absolute insanity. After we bought our Nepali visas we had to track down a bus to get us to Kathmandu. It's a windy and mountainous five hour ride to the capital city of Kathmandu. We bought our tickets and once the bus was full we finally started the journey.
At first the ride wasn't too bad, but as we went along through many villages we acquired more and more passengers. This made for an extremely cramped ride. I even gave up my lap for a little Nepali kid, who I think actually ended up wetting his pants while sitting on my lap. Well, The solution to this problem is obvious, right? RIDE ON TOP OF THE BUS!! I made the decision to forgo my seat inside the bus and sit on top of the luggage rack with my friends and the local travelers. It may not have been the smartest idea, but god damn it was an awesome experience!!
Once we arrived closer to Kathmandu the driver told us we needed to get down from the top of the bus because the Kathmandu police frown on this type of travel. So, the already overbooked bus became a can of sardines pretty much. No room at all to move as I stood in the aisle for another hour before we reached Kathmandu. While trying not to fall on top of people I reached to hold on to one of the bags in the overhead bins. However, my hand ended up grabbing the head of a live chicken in one of the bags! I felt the feathery head and just about ran out the door, but that was impossible because I couldn't move at all.
The first night in Kathmandu was pretty interesting as our guest house manager failed to tell us a very important piece of information. A few of us ended up going out for some drinks thinking that we will have no troubles getting into the guest house when we return. Two o'clock came around and we decided to call it a night. The first challenge was finding our guest house as Thamel, the area of Kathmandu that we are staying, is like a very large maze with no street names. It took us about an hour before we found the guest house, but when we arrived the door was padlocked shut. We rang the door bell to awake the night manager but nobody came to open the door. This went on for two more hours!!! We weren't really sure what to do, so I ended up taking a nap on the door step while the other two friends of mine spoke with a local passerby trying to help us. Finally, to our amazement, the night manager came to open the door. I guess the guest house closes at 12:00am. This information would have been nice to know before we went out for the night! We ended up getting the night discounted and one of my friends left the guest house. I ended up staying because I don't really care.
The next stop for me is the Annapurna Circuit, which is a three week trek in Nepal. It should make for a great time before I'm off to Kolkata, India with a couple of friends where I think I will be spending Christmas.
Here are some pictures from the last couple of weeks in Tibet and Nepal: