(Individual videos can be found below.)
I knocked another country off my bucket list today. It was a 40 minute flight from Varanasi, India to Kathmandu, Nepal. We are now in the beautiful Himalayan Mountains. We saw the snow-capped peaks as we were landing. I didn't have a window seat, I couldn't tell if one of them was Mount Everest.
India is ten and a half hours ahead of eastern standard time. Nepal is 15 minutes ahead of India. I never knew there were time zones in 15 minute increments. The traffic isn't any better here than it was in India. It still takes forever to get anywhere on the roads. We had less than three hours of daylight left by the time we got here. We walked through the marketplace on the way to the Durbar Square.
Durbar Square is full of temples and the former palace.
Below is a picture of me in front of one of the temples.
Below is the palace back when Nepal was a kingdom.
Below are some local citizens that were curious about us strange westerners.
Next is was off to the hotel to check in. We are staying at the Hyatt Regency. This is a really beautiful hotel. I can't include a picture because it was dark by the time we got here. We dropped the bags in our room and went down to dinner. I just finished what was probably one of the best meals that I ever had in my life. I am so full. Everything was so good.
Life here at the Hyatt is going to be a big contrast from where we are heading tomorrow. We are flying into the jungle in search of tigers, leopards, rhinos and other critters. Our lodge only has hot water for two hours a day. They turn all the electricity off at 10:00pm so not to disturb the animals. I'm told they have wifi outside the dining room, so I will try to send email. But if you don't hear from me for a couple of days, I either got eaten by a wild animal or I couldn't connect from the jungle lodge. We're coming back to Kathmandu for two more nights after the safari.
Late Wednesday morning we checked out of the beautiful Hyatt Regency hotel in Kathmandu.
We flew out of Kathmandu at noon yesterday. We flew on a small plane to Bharatpur. It was only a 20 minute flight. Below is a picture of the plane as we were disembarking in Bharatpur.
Below is a picture of the large airport in Bharatpur.
It was a 40 minute drive to the jungle lodge. Lunch was waiting for us when we got there. Next we had a talk on elephants.
Next we went to a local village. We rode there in ox carts.
The people in the village were are very friendly and welcoming. The children were glad to see us.
We returned to the lodge for dinner. Then we had a local dance performance around the bonfire. We then retired to our unheated cabins. Below is mine.
They put hot water bottles in our beds to warm them up. This morning we got up at 5:30 for our elephant safari in Chitwan National Park. The picture below was taken from my elephant standing in the middle of the river. And it's not a zoom shot.
It was very foggy this morning. Our elephant ride was 90 minutes long. We saw more rhinos, deer, antelope and birds but no tigers. Below is a picture of us on our elephants out in the jungle of Nepal.
We came back to the lodge for breakfast. And we're about to leave on a bird watching walk.
Hello again folks,|
After I wrote yesterday we went on a nature walk along the river. We didn't see much, a few birds. Then in the afternoon we visited a crocodile breeding farm. That was followed by a very bumpy two hours jeep trip through the national park. The only animals we saw on this torturous drive was a lizard and a chicken. In the evening there was a boring slide show followed by dinner. I enjoyed the elephant ride in the morning when we saw the rhinos, but the rest of the day was a total waste.
Today we flew back to Kathmandu for the final two nights of the trip. We took a walking tour through Bhaktapur before going to the hotel. This is a medieval city with three squares full of towering temples. On the way to the first square we passed a ceremony that was taking place. When a young boy reaches puberty they shave his head, sacrifice an animal and have a celebration. In the picture below you can see the head of the sacrificed buffalo in the center and all the red stuff on the ground is the blood.
Below is the first square we came to. That's the king's palace on the extreme left. It has 55 windows, one for each wife. The custom was to build temples outside the palace.
We walked along the cobblestone streets to the next square. The streets are full shops and carts full of produce being sold by the local farmers.
The next square had an impressive temple with large stone statues on each side of the steps.
Below is a picture of the entire square.
Lots of aggressive peddlers and beggars here in Nepal, but not quite as bad as India. And while walking around here there isn't the overpowering smell of urine like there is in India.
Tonight we are back at the Hyatt Regency in Kathmandu. I can't tell you how glad I am to be back in my five-star hotel. The cabin in Chitwan was very rustic. It got quite cold in there at night. There was one dim bulb in the room that wasn't much brighter than a night light.
Sadly, my trip is almost over. I have enjoyed myself very much. India is definitely a place that I would never want to return to. But it was a very enlightening experience to see how 1.4 billion people live. I am very glad I came. All the members of this group have gotten along really well.
I am keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow. We are supposed to take a mountain flight around Mount Everest. Unfortunately the weather forecast is not good. I will be very disappointed if the flight is cancelled.
Woke up at 5:30AM this morning for the flight around Mount Everest. When we got to the lobby to board the bus they told us not to come yet. So we went and had breakfast and then went to the airport. As soon as we got to the airport we were told the flight was canceled. I am so disappointed.
Late this morning we did a tour of Kathmandu. Our first stop was at the palace of the living goddess. They select a young girl that is five or six years old to become this living goddess. She must have long black hair and be perfect in every way. Neither she or her family have any choice in this matter, she must accept. She remains the living goddess until her first menstruation and then she is tossed aside and they select a new one. She remains cooped up in the palace you see below. She came to one of the windows while we were there. You are not allowed to take her picture. She sure didn't look very happy. Also in the picture is Dinesh, our tour guide for the entire trip. He's in the blue sweater vest on the right side.
Next we walked through the royal palace which is pictured below.
There were a lot more temples to see. I won't bore you with pictures of all of them. I'll show you the one with the pigeons all over it.
Next we went to lunch. The only place in the area that Dinesh thought was safe to eat in was a Pizza Hut. So we had lunch at a Pizza Hut. There was a KFC right next door. Below is a picture of the KFC. The group suggested we eat there because they thought I could get the food for free.
When we came out of the Pizza Hut it was raining and it rained the rest of the day. So we made a couple quick photo stops on the way back to the hotel instead of doing the full tour. Below is the crematorium. In the picture you can see the body just prior to burning.
And below is a cremation fire.
Our last stop was at Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal's largest. It was raining pretty good here. I didn't get a good picture, I'll include one from the Internet.
I have now just returned from the farewell dinner. We went to the Utsav Restaurant. We each got our own personalized menu with our names engraved on them. We had entertainment as we ate.
Below are pictures of the group at the farewell dinner.
Tomorrow morning before we leave we're going to try to squeeze in that Mount Everest flight if the weather improves. At the moment it is still pouring rain. It has been for hours. Tomorrow is going to be a very long day. We leave the hotel at noon and fly back to Delhi with the group. We get to Delhi at 6:00 in the evening and go to a hotel for four hours. We will have dinner at the hotel. Then at 10:00PM we are taken back to the Delhi Airport. This is where the group breaks up for our respective flights. My flight doesn't leave until 2:00AM Monday morning. Then it is a 16 hour flight to Chicago. It will be dark the whole way as the flight is due to land in Chiacgo at 6:30AM local time. I have a little under 4 hour layover in Chicago and should get home just before noon.
If we actually get to go on that mountain flight I will send another email of Mount Everest. If not this will be the last email. I hope I haven't bored you too much.
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