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(Nepal Map)



All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2013:

On Tuesday it was a 40 minute flight to Nepalís capital, Kathmandu from Varanasi.
Kathmandu is the largest urban agglomerate of Nepal. The agglomerate consists of Kathmandu
Metropolitan City at its core, and its sister cities Patan, Kirtipur, Thimi, and Bhaktapur.
Today we visited Patan. We walked through the city's bustling marketplace.
Disembarking Air India flight in Kathmandu, Nepal Marketplace in Patan, Nepal

The most important monument of the city is Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ancient Royal Palace where Malla Kings of Lalitpur resided is pictured lower left.
Durbar Square in Patan, Nepal Durbar Square in Patan, Nepal Durbar Square in Patan, Nepal

Patan Durbar Square complex, situated in the center of Patan city,
also known as Lalitpur, houses the residence of the former Patan royal family.
Patan Square and its surroundings are good specimen of ancient Newari architecture.
Durbar Square in Patan, Nepal Durbar Square in Patan, Nepal Durbar Square in Patan, Nepal

The video below is 12 minutes long of my afternoon visit to Patan Durbar Square.

Tuesday evening we checked into the five star Hyatt Regency Kathmandu.
We had a delicious dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Hyatt Regency Kathmandu

The video below is 5 minutes long of the Hyatt Regency Kathmandu.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FEBRUARY 12, 2013
Hello everyone,

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.

Tim

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2013:

Wednesday morning we flew from Kathmandu to Bharatpur, a small airport near
Chitwan National Park. It was about an hours drive to the lodge from the airport.
The Yeti Airlines plane that took us to Bharatpur Bharatpur, Nepal Airport

We arrived at the Safari Narayani Lodge just in time for lunch.
After lunch we checked out our rooms, that's my cabin below.
This was way too rustic for me. My cabin had a very strong odor.
The walls were so paper thin they almost served no purpose.
The mattress was very uncomfortable.
There was no heat in the room and only one very dim light bulb.
My cabin at the Safari Narayani Lodge My room at the Safari Narayani Lodge Outisde the dining room at the Safari Narayani Lodge

The video below is 4 minutes long of my accommodations in Chitwan National Park.

In the afternoon we had an elephant talk and an ox cart ride into a Tharu village.
This was a very friendly village. The children were especially cute.
Me with an elephant at the Safari Narayani Lodge Ox cart ride in rural Nepal Tharu village in Nepal

It was very interesting to see how the residents went about their daily lives.
It was evident that they were proud of their community, and rightfully so.
We hopped back in our ox carts and returned to the lodge after our visit.
Tharu village in Nepal Tharu village in Nepal

The video below is 24 minutes long of my ox cart ride and Tharu village visit.

Before dinner we had some local dances around the bonfire at the lodge.
After dinner we retired to our horrible rooms for the night.
Dance around bonfire at the Safari Narayani Lodge



THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2013:

We got up before dawn today for an elephant safari in the Chitwan National Park.
It was a very foggy morning.
As our elephants walked into the river we could barely see a few feet ahead.
It didn't take long before we spotted a rhinoceros.
We followed him through the river and then out into the jungle.
We also saw some deer and jackals, but they were hard to see in the fog.
Our elephant safari in Nepal's Chitwan National Park Our elephant safari in Nepal's Chitwan National Park Our elephant safari in Nepal's Chitwan National Park

The video below is 21 minutes long of my elephant safari in Chitwan National Park.

We came back to the lodge for breakfast.
After breakfast we took a nature walk along the Rapti River.
We saw a few birds but we found the locals using the river far more interesting.
Nature walk along Nepal's Rapti River Nature walk along Nepal's Rapti River Nature walk along Nepal's Rapti River

As we left the river we climbed the hill into the local village next to the lodge.
There were some ladies doing their wash in the noon day sun.
Village next to the Safari Narayani Lodge Village next to the Safari Narayani Lodge Village next to the Safari Narayani Lodge

We walked through the village and were welcomed by a very cute little girl.
Village next to the Safari Narayani Lodge Village next to the Safari Narayani Lodge Village next to the Safari Narayani Lodge

This afternoon we visited an crocodile breeding farm which was followed by
a bumpy jeep safari in the Chitwan National Park where we saw nothing.
Crocodile breeding farm in Chitwan National Park

There was a slide show at the lodge before dinner and then one more night in our rustic rooms.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FEBRUARY 13-14, 2013
Hello,

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.

Tim

The complete video below is 85 minutes long of my entire jungle adventure in Chitwan National Park.



FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2013:

This morning we had breakfast at the lodge and then drove back to Bharatpur.
We had brunch at a local hotel in Bharatpur before checking in at the airport.
It was a short 20 minute flight back to Kathmandu from Bharatpur.
We took a tour of Bhaktapur after our arrival.
Bhaktapur, also known as the City of Devotees, was the capital of the Kathmandu valley
during the 14th to 16th centuries. The city is filled with palaces, temples, statues
and squares connected by a maze of largely pedestrian-only streets.
In the picture on the right below is a Hindu ceremony taking place.
When a young boy reaches puberty they shave his head as part of the ritual.
Animal sacrifice is also involved. You can see the severed head of a buffalo in the picture.
Ladies selling produce in Bhaktapur, Nepal Ladies selling produce in Bhaktapur, Nepal Hindu ceremony in Bhaktapur, Nepal

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the plaza in front of the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom.
It is one of three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Durbar Square proper houses the 55-window Palace which was constructed by King Jitamitra Malla
and was home to royalty until 1769. Pictured lower right is the King's bath.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square Bhaktapur Durbar Square The king's bath at the palace in Bhaktapur, Nepal

Considered part of the Bhaktapur Durbar Square complex is Taumadhi Square.
Taumadhi Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal Taumadhi Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal Taumadhi Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal

The Nyatapola Temple presides over the Taumadhi Square. Dating back to 1702 AD,
the colossal five storied edifice is the country's tallest pagoda temple.
The struts, doors, windows and tympanums-each embellished with attractively carved
divine figures-perfectly portray the creative tradition of Newar craftsmen.
The temple is dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Laxmi, the manifestation of female force and creativity.
Taumadhi Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal Taumadhi Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal Taumadhi Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal

I loved walking along the narrow and zigzagged alleys and seeing how the locals live.
Along the main streets, there are shops where souvenirs, fruits etc. are sold.
The streets of Bhaktapur, Nepal The streets of Bhaktapur, Nepal The streets of Bhaktapur, Nepal

The video below is 13 minutes long of my visit to Bhaktapur.

We returned to the Hyatt Regency for our final two nights of the trip after leaving Bhaktapur.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FEBRUARY 15, 2013
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.

Until tommorrow,

Tim

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2013:

Saturday morning started with bitter disappointment, our flight around Mount Everest
was cancelled due to bad weather just as we were arriving at the airport.
After breakfast we had a tour of Kathmandu, the city proper.
Kathmandu Durbar Square is a massive complex of palaces, temples and courtyards.
The original center of Kathmandu is often named as Basantapur, Hanuman Dhoka or Durbar Square.
Kathmandu Durbar square has various historical royal and governmental institutions
mixed with temples of different styles and ages.
A big brick building on Durbar Square, the Kumari Ghar (or Kumari Chowk) houses the
living goddess of Kathmandu. Built in 1757, the temple is known for its magnificent carvings
as well as its divine inhabitant. The Kumari is a young girl who is believed to be the
incarnation of the demon-slaying Hindu goddess Durga. Dating back at least to the Middle Ages,
the cult of the Kumari is popular among both Hindus and Nepalese Buddhists - another
notable example of the mingling of religious traditions in Nepal.
Kathmandu's Kumari Ghar, home to the Living Goddess Kathmandu Durbar Square Kathmandu Durbar Square

The main attraction of Durbar Square is Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex.
The striking palace was named in honor of the monkey god, Hanuman.
The palace is decorated with elaborately-carved wooden windows and panels
and houses the King Tribhuwan Memorial museum and the Mahendra Museum.
Kathmandu's Hanuman Dhoka Palace A temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square with lots of pigeons A temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square with lots of pigeons

After leaving Durbar Square we had lunch at a Pizza Hut.
After lunch it rained the rest of the day. We made a couple quick photo stops
on the way back to the hotel. The first was at the cremation grounds.
Kathmandu cremation grounds

The second stop was at Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal's largest.

The video below is 15 minutes long of my day in Kathmandu.

This evening we had the farewell dinner at the Utsaw Restaurant in Kathmandu.
Farewell dinner at Utsaw Restaurant in Kathmandu Farewell dinner at Utsaw Restaurant in Kathmandu Farewell dinner at Utsaw Restaurant in Kathmandu

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON FEBRUARY 16, 2013
Hello everybody,

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.



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 Utsaw Restaurant. We each got our own personalized menu with our names engraved on them. We had entertainment as we ate.



Below are a couple of 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.

Tim

The complete video below is 68 minutes long of all my adventures in Kathmandu.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2013:

This morning we thought we were going to be able to see Mount Everest.
The weather was nice in Kathmandu, we got to the airport and several mountain flights
took off. But then we were informed that the mountains were clouded over and there
was nothing to see and our flight was once again cancelled.
We returned to the hotel for breakfast and then checked out at noon.
We had a 3:40 flight to Delhi on Jet Airways.
The flight to Delhi was under two hours. When we arrived we gathered our luggage.
We waited around a parking lot for half an hour because our bus driver was late.
We went to a Radisson hotel about 45 minutes from the airport to freshen up and have dinner.
We got back to the airport at about 10:00PM.
We said goodbye to our outstanding program manager, Dinesh.
About half our group was on the 1:30AM flight to JFK.
Me and several others were on the 2:00AM flight to Chicago.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2013:

My flight to Chicago left on time at 2:00AM.
It was a long flight of over 15 hours to Chicago.
We touched down in Chicago at 6:30AM local time as the sun was rising.
I had about four hours to kill at O'Hare before my flight to Indianapolis.
My trip ended at 11:30AM as my short commuter flight touched down in Indianapolis.
Most of my tour group had a surprise as we were heading back home.
We were apparently served some bad food on the flight from Kathmandu to Delhi.
It took almost a week to recover from that.

The video below is 17 minutes long of my flights home from India.


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