A Travellerspoint blog

How to ride a on top of a Nepali bus....

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.
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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.
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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.
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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!!
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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:
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Posted by benji2020 05:16 Archived in Nepal Tagged nepal tibet Comments (1)

Tashi Deleee!! Welcome to the Roof Of The World!!

Living life in Tibet

After 45 hours on the most exciting train ride I've ever taken, I'm finally on the Roof Of The World!! I left Chengdu Wednesday night and arrived in Lhasa, Tibet Friday afternoon. This particular train route is the highest in the world. They actually have oxygen masks in the compartments for those who end up getting sick from the altitude. The funny thing is that the oxygen in my compartment didn't work...lol. The highest point we hit on the journey was 5,300 meters. It was a long train ride, but it was the most breath taking scenery I've ever seen in my life. Once the train hit the Tibetan Plateau my eyes were glued to the windows. It was absolutely amazing.

I'll be in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, for two more days and then will make my way to the base camp of Mt. Everest!! It's cold as shit here in Lhasa, which is about 3600 meter elevation, so I can't imagine how cold it is going to be at base camp. The base camp of Everest is over 8400 meters high. It gonna be damn cold. I really hope I have enough clothes for this trip.

The last stop on the Tibet tour is the Nepal border. I will be going onwards to Kathmandu, Nepal with some people in my Tibet tour group. I have to be in a tour group for Tibet because foreigners aren't allowed to travel in Tibet alone. Tibet is a very unstable autonomous region of China and has caused lots of political problems in the past. So, the Chinese government makes it as hard as possible for foreigners to enter the territory. Anyways, I will be going to Kathmandu and will try and apply for an India visa. I'm not sure how long I will be in Nepal but a couple of the friends that I've been traveling with will be trekking the Annapurna circuit for three weeks and I may tag along with them. We will see how I feel about the decision once I get to Kathmandu. If I successfully land a visa to India I will head that way. That's the plan right now and could very easily change within the next week or two.

The bottom line is that I finally made it to Tibet and I'm loving every minute of it!

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Posted by benji2020 07:22 Archived in China Tagged tibet Comments (0)

45 hour train to Tibet!!

My dream is about to come true!

Hey all,

I've been in Chengdu for the last couple of days. I've met some great people and was able to see the panda reserve. The baby pandas were ridiculously cute! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take pictures of the babies. I was able to take a bunch of the adult pandas though. I will post the pictures soon.

My main purpose of coming to Chengdu was to book a trip to Tibet, and I have successfully done so! I am leaving tonight on the train for Lhasa, which takes about 45 hours. I'm super excited and I can't wait to see Mount Everest! I'm going onwards from Tibet to Kathmandu, Nepal and will try to get an India visa. I have to go buy some gloves and a hat now so I don't freeze my ass off in Tibet. I'll talk to you all soon!

Posted by benji2020 00:03 Archived in China Comments (0)

Where in the world is Ben?

I realize I have been doing a terrible job of updating my blog, so I'm going to try my very best to update once a week from now until I go back home. I'm not going to promise anything, but I will try my best.

I was in Hong Kong last week with the parents. We had a great time visiting the Canton Fair in Guangzhou for a couple of days as well as eating a shit ton of seafood in Hong Kong. We also drank quite a bit too. We also walked a lot. But it was all a good time. They left me in Hong Kong last Friday. I actually had one day of work on that Friday. My friend contacted me from New York asking if I could do her a favor by checking out a factory in Shenzhen, which is about an hour north of Hong Kong in China. She said the visit would only take about an hour and that she would pay me. There was no hesitation in the decisions, because I always need money. Well the hour visit turned into a twelve hour affair...haha. I began the day meeting the factory manager at the train station and she treated me to lunch to start out with. We had some great Cantonese food along with a couple bottles of beer. There is nothing like drinking on the job..haha. She offered the beer so I couldn't say no otherwise it would have been rude. We finally got to the factory after a couple of hours. She gave me the grand tour and I asked her questions about the factory, the workers, and I also snapped a bunch of pictures. After the tour we had to drive another hour north to a different factory. I did the same thing at that factory as I did at the first. Afterwards I was treated to dinner and then finally I made it back to the train station. I left Hong Kong at 11:00 am and returned back to Hong Kong at 11:00 pm. It was a long day but it was fun and interesting. I was able to put my Mandarin to use and I was also able to use my camera. And I got paid to do so! I thought it was a pretty good gig none the less.

I was in Hong Kong until Sunday when I grabbed a train to Chengdu. I just arrived in Chengdu about an hour ago. I took the 34 hour train from Guangzhou to get here. Some people may think that that is a crazy thing to do but I quite enjoy train rides. I think I was the only foreigner on the train, so that made for a great time. I couldn't help but overhear everyone saying "wai guo ren" or "laowai" which both mean foreigner in Mandarin. I was sitting on my bed reading my new kindle that my mom gave me when I was in Hong Kong. Thank You Mom! I love that thing. It is such a space saver! But, anyways I was sitting on my bed in the train and there were two guys sitting in the aisle staring at me and then they started talking about me, "Why do foreigners ride the train? Why do foreigners have so much hair? Why do foreigners have such a big backpack?" The list went on and then finally I couldn't take it anymore and I told them I could understand every word they said. The looks on their faces were priceless! Then they bought me beer and dinner. We sat up with another girl in our compartment and talked about the weather and how it's been acting strange lately. It was unusually cool in Guangzhou and in Hong Kong. The world is a changing. So the conversation went on about the weather and some other stuff that I kind of got lost in translation with. Then it ended with one of the guys asking me about 9/11 and why Obama is black. I didn't know why he was asking me this or what he wanted to know, but I kind of changed the subject and then we decided to go to bed.

I'm actually going to hit they hay now because the train ride was pretty exhausting. Here are some pictures from Hong Kong:

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Posted by benji2020 10:16 Archived in China Comments (3)

The past couple of weeks in Taiwan

Sorry for the length of time that it's been since my last update. I'm currently in Taipei visiting some friends, but I've been hanging out in Kaohsuing in Southern Taiwan for the past couple of weeks. I've met some really cool people while staying in the hostel. So, far I've met a great couple from Japan that has been staying here for a couple months now. They are extremely nice and great to hang out with, and they love watching NFL. They love it so much that they keep track of records.
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There names are Etsuko and Takke. One morning I woke up to a note on the table from Etsuko:
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She spent the previous night making the curry and let me have the leftovers for breakfast. It was probabably some of the best curry I've ever had! They make some of the best salsa as well. We actually had a salsa party the other night. Prepare to be blown away by this salsa because when I get back home making a ton of it. It's kind of interesting to think that you can learn how to make awesome mexican salsa from a Japanese couple in Taiwan.

I went off one day with a group of Americans that are teachers near Taipei. They came down to Kaohsiung for holiday. We went to a tourist area called Lotus Pond. The pond, which was pretty much a small lake, had several pagodas and temples around it.
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We walked around the area for about an hour and ended up finding another pagoda that stretched out into the middle of the lake. Once there we found a couple kiddie rides. We thought the pagoda was a strange place to have kiddie rides, but this is Asia. I was wondering if the ride even worked, so I put a coin in the slot.
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There were two little girls that were near and I asked if they wanted to get on the ride. It was hard to give up my spot, but I think I made their day.
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I'll write another post in a couple of days when I get the other pictures downloaded. Talk to you all soon.

Posted by benji2020 09:48 Archived in Taiwan Comments (1)

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