10.26.09

Kathmandu to Tibet Border

Posted in Nepal, The journey journal at 11:06 pm by Administrator

Email from TC…sent Monday, Oct 26, 2009
Hi Carole,
Here is the first blog message to go up on the site. hopefully I have enough time to get another one down about the journey here in the mountains.
Thanks very much
Tc

Blog 1

I’m now in Tibet an our website is blocked by the great firewall of China and so I can’t check where I left off in Kathmandu and so sorry if I repeat myself or leave stuff out.
We were in Kathmandu for 3 days before the intrepid Cam joined us from his annual travels around europe or whichever place takes his fancy. After that Nic, Cam and myself had great fun wandering around the kathmandu valley.
We hung out in the tourist district, wandered the streets beyond which were much less colourful in a ‘things to buy’ sense but much more colourful in a ‘people’ sense and we hiked and biked on the steep sides of the valley that the city sits in. Once out of the city you see the nepalese light up with smiles and hellos and they showed themselves to be a great and friendly bunch of people. Their looks vary from looking Indian to looking chinese and every variation of a mixture between. There was a much more western diet available in Kathmandu and so we filled up on some of the things that we missed.
One great thing that happened in Kathmandu is that we became really friendly with the hotel staff and manager. To the point that he gave us gifts of tshirts and traditional scarves when we left and he definitely had a mist in his eye when we left. So our recommendation is to stay at the Florid Nepal Hotel in Z street, Thamel
From Kathmandu we had to take a truck to the border because that is how things are organised for the trips to tibet. The company that arranged the tibet leg for us got the visas with no troubles which was a huge relief. There were some worries and mucking around with the organisation of it all but on the whole it seems to have worked out well. That is good as the kathmandu to lhasa leg is costing $1500 US each and the eastern part of tibet is costing a little more. You’d want good service for that.
The truck ride to the border was pretty cool. I rode in the back with the bikes for the whole trip (114km in 7.5 hours) because the front could only fit Nic and Cam. The views were spectacular on the journey and I recomend Nepal to anyone who craves a sumtuous visual feast.
From the point of view of a geotechnical engineer, the road trip to the border was scary as hell. So many sections of the road had given way or were about to that I had to try very hard not to look close to the road and only at distant scenery. The only advice that I can give is that if it is raining or has rained in the previous 24hours “DO NOT drive teh Kathmandu to Kodari road!” It gave me the serious heebie jeebies.
Also just near the border we were passing a tourist resort that boasted a 160m high bungy jump. As Cam had never done it before we called for a quick stop and he threw himself off of a nice a sturdy bridge above a spectacular canyon. I’d already done it before and Nic figured that surviving the drive was enough so we settled for taking video from various angles.
The delay was ok though because just ahead of where we stopped a bus driver going the other way had decided to fit around a truck that he had no business in trying to fit around and the bus ended up hanging by a very small margin over teh edge of the 160 metre deep canyon that cam jumped into. The bus hung there and ‘almost’ blocked teh road off. The kind driver did refund the money of the passengers and then the banked up traffic began the painful task of edging around the back of the bus.
Anyway we made it to the border in the end and spent our last night in Nepal in the town of kodari before a walk across the border and into the forbidden country of tibet.
Tc

10.23.09

Starting the Tibet Journey

Posted in China, Nepal, The journey journal at 1:35 pm by Administrator

Posting email received from TC on Wed, 21 Oct 2009

Hey Carole,

Nic is just sending you a few pics of our trip in tibet so far. Its pretty cool. We have a small problem in that China has blocked both facebook and our website. In that way we can’t update people on how we’re going. I was wondering if you could leave a quick message on teh blog to let everyone know that things are fine here. My friend Cam joined us in Kathmandu and we’ve been on the road ever since. There is very little electricity in Tibet let alone phone and internet so getting more info out will be pretty time consuming. I’m going to write a few blog entries over the next few days and I was hoping that if I emailed them to you that you’d be able to post them.

10.06.09

Ahhh Nepal

Posted in Nepal, The journey journal at 3:51 pm by Administrator

Wow. Its like someone has turned down the volume. Its quieter, cleaner, much less smelly and the most important part is that the people know how to smile and welcome a stranger. We’ve been a few days in Nepal are really like it. It may have been a shock if we had first come here but compared to india this is a paradise. Things changed from the border onwards. The 2 full days that we have had in Kathmandu have been great. We are staying in teh touristy area which is kinda cool. The novelty of seeing white people again is starting to wear off but to see them again was so strange. The are that we are in has bars and serves food that isn’t curry and has everything that you could want to buy. The food in india was one of teh highlights but 2 straight weeks of curry leaves you craving a change even if the curry is great. Yesterday we did a 50 m ride to get teh legs working again. It was 25 km uphill out of town and 25 back. The countryside and rural people here are really cool. Lots of green with rice paddies interspersed with stands of trees and the towns and fields are full of people with an easy smile and they are always quick to great you with teh standard Namaste. For a country that has a literacy rate below 50% there is an amazing amount of english here and even if the people don’t have any other languages, their ability to communicate makes life easy and cool. I refuse to believe that this country is poorer than india. In india the poor are retched, squalid and offensive. Here the people seem to care for their surroundings and have more pride in themselves (the indian woman took pride in their appearance but that was the only thing, everything else was covered in poo) and their surroundings. Here the children build swings and play things for themselves and seem to know how to have fun. The staff in the hotel that we are in are awesomely friendly and helpful (for $10 per day its a great deal) and they are typical of the Nepalese that we’ve met. Even the touts in the city are friendly about annoying you with their business. I’ve mever met more friendly guys trying to sell me hash on the street anywhere. Today we jumped on a local bus out to a temple for the ritual sacrifice day (we missed the goat being killed but aren’t too upset) and then went on a hike in the hills. All was fun and got some great photos looking down onto the city from the surrounding hills.
Cam joins us tomorrow and we’ll then spend some time around teh city waiting for our visas and doing a few hikes and bike rides of a few days. It should also be fun getting CAm upto the proper fitness to tackle the job of riding over teh worlds highest mountain range. We’re not even sure if we’re ready after 5 months on the road. It will all be fun and hopefully the visa comes through from the chinese embassy quickly so that we can start before it gets truly cold in the mountains. We’re expecting lows around -10 to -15 as it is.
Anyway bye for now

Tc