Asia 2002

   
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General Information

Nepal Country Code +977

Nepal Time Zone: +11:45 from CST

      (midnight CST is 11:45 AM KTM)

      Click here for a World Clock

  

October, 25 2001

 We booked our tickets. All flights are NWA.  

Jan 14: MSP to BKK

Jan 16: BKK to KTM

 May 20: KTM to BKK

June 6: BKK to MSP

 June 14: MSP to MOT

 We have sold our house.  We close on Nov 16.  We have been busy packing and getting everything organized.  We will be staying with Angie and John Ryden for the 2 months before we leave

  

December, 4 2001

 We are currently monitoring the political situation in Nepal before we make any decisions to the status of our trip.  We have been in contact with several aquaintances both in Nepal and the US who have first hand knowldege of what is happening in Nepal and the security of the country.  All of the sources indicate that the unrest will be settled in a short time as to not interrupt the tourist season.  We are monitoring the news daily and will make an informed decision before leaving.

  

December, 13 2001

 

We have changed our schedule and finally have everything finalized.  Our tickets arrived this afternoon.  Our itinerary is as follows:

 January 14 - 23: Hong Kong

January 23 - May 27: India for 2 weeks, Nepal for the rest

May 27 - June 14: Thailand

 We have been very busy finalizing our plans.  We have most of the trip in order.  We will spend time with Herzog's in Hong Kong to begin our trip.  In Nepal we have a couple of contacts.  Hana in Pokhara has been very helpful with keeping us up to date with the political happenings of the country.  We have also been contacted by a couple from Salida, Colorado and we will be taking over some cloths, books, and money for a child they support.  We hope that Pasang (the child they support) will be able to show us around Kathmandu for a day and help us learn Nepali.  We are also taking over about 100 lbs of clothing for the Friendship House which is a house for girls going to school in Kathmandu.  In India we will be visiting Saubhik Mandal who used to work for Navitaire.  He lives in Luchnow which is a couple hours from Dehli.  We will hopefully see him in both Dehli and his home town.  In Thailand we have met with a friend of Emily's cousin whose family lives a couple hours from Bangkok and sister lives in Bangkok.  We will hopefully be able to visit all of his family.

 We will write again once we have departed.

  

January, 9 2002

 

Tentative Schedule:

 January:

February

March: Anapurna Circuit

April - May: Everest Trek

May - June: Thailand

  

January, 20 2002

 We have been very busy since leaving MSP.  We arrived on Bangkok on Tuesday after traveling for close to 24 hours.  We had made reservations at these dayrooms located inside the Bangkok airport.  When I made the reservations the person I talked to spoke very little English so I was worried that our resservations may have gotten screwed up.  As I feared, we did not have reservations and they were full.  We went through customs and were able to get a reasonably priced room close to the airport.  Once we got to the room (it was at the American chain Quality Suites) we had a surprise.  The room had A/C, but it did not work (it was 32C and 100% humidity in Bangkok) and the lights in the bathroom did not work.  We eventually got a lamp moved, showed and layed down for a sleepless night in the heat.  We did not get to the hotel until 12:30AM and had to leave at 7:00AM so it was a very short night. 

 Angela (our friend) picked us up at the Hong Kong airport and accompanied us to there place.  Once we settled and visited for a while we took a taxi to Victoria Peak.  This is a high peak that overlooks the Hong Kong and Kowloon Islands.  It has great views of the areas. 

 On Wednesday, Hansi took us around Hong Kong.  We started the morning at Mong Kok.  This is an old are of true Hong Kong where all of the Chinese do their shopping. It is several blocks lined with stalls and shops selling everything from wire to cloths to live dinner.  The animals were interesting, you could get fish, turtles, chickens, ducks, snakes, and most everything else that would still be alive.  They would kill it in front of you and then clean it for you and give you the end product.  It was quite a deal.  After lunch (no, we did not eat anything from there) we went to Fanling with Hansi where he had some business to do.  We took the scenic route home through the country side seeing the very poor and dirty areas of more rural Hong Kong.  We went to the top of the highest point in Hong Kong (Tai Mo Shan, 957m).  From there we took the eastern road around Hong Kong island and then back home for dinner.  On the tour Hansi was explaining many of the places around.  A golf club membship here runs around $1.5M USD.  A 2,000 sq ft flat in some areas is as much as $30K / month to rent.  Things like this are very expensive, yet a 30 minute taxi ride is only $7.

 Friday we saw our first temple, the Man Mo (temple for more money), did some shopping, then spent a few hours having drinks at some local pubs. 

 Saturday we went to Macau which was an old Portuguese colony that was turned back over to China.  It was a 1 hour turbo boat ride (the boats are powered by airplane turbo engines).  The island was very relaxing and quiet compared to Hong Kong and had some beautiful and colorful old Portuguese architecture.

 Sunday we met a friend of Herzog's for Dim Sum, then spent the afternoon visiting with him and having drinks.  He owns a medical device company (they made hemaglobin analyzers) located in Kansas City.

 On Monday we are going to China to see Herzog's factory and see a little corner of China.  On Tuesday we will hopfully visit a large Buddha statue located on the peak of one of the hills around Hong Kong.  On Wednesday we depart for Kathmandu.

  

January 23, 2002

 

Namaste from Nepal!  (Translated this means "We salute the god in you", this is the hello and goodbye of Nepali).

 We have arrived in Kathmandu today.  We were unable to get access to our yahoo mail from Hong Kong so we have been a little out of touch.  We did not make it to the giant Buddha due to foggy weather. 

 The trip to China was interesting.  We drove 45 minutes, then took a train to the Chinese border.  After crossing, we had a driver waiting to take us around.  It is basically impossible to drive in Chine both because the drivers are insane and it is extremely expensive.  We first went to the Opium Museum (it was not like a brewery tour where you got samples at the end).  The museum was dedicated to the history of the Opium Wars with Britain.  It was a totally different point of view than you read in British history.  After that we went to an authentic Chinese lunch.  We had fish that they brought to the table live for our approval before cooking it, we had chickens feet (Hansi ate one, but I did not) and many other more normal dishes that were all excellent.  We had to have an interpreter with us since no one in the restaurant spoke English.  After lunch we toured the Geka factory which was extremely interesting.  They make small appliances and make everything that goes into them (they even build the motors, buying only the shafts and bearings). 

 On Wednesday we left for the airport at 5:15AM and had an 8AM flight.  The flight out of Hong Kong left 30 minutes late because they waited for 1 person.  That left us with only 15 minutes to catch our transfer in BKK (we did make it).  The flight to Kathmandu (KTM) was breath taking.  As we approached the Himalayas, the mountains were standing up out of the clouds to eye level with the airplane.  You could make our Lhotse and then Everest beside it.  The spin drift off the summit of Everest was clearly visible.  Shortly later the Annapurna's were also visible.  When we approached the foot hills, they looked more like American Mountains than foothills.  When we arrived in KTM we learned that even though we made our connection, out luggage did not.  We are not in KTM with only the cloths we are wearing and our hiking boots, so at least we have those.  We hope to get our bags tomorrow.  Hotel Utse had a driver waiting for us, a person put our carry-on bags in the trunk and asked for a $20 tip (that is more expensive than our hotel room).  The taxi ride was interesting.  Traffic flows at a fast 30 km/hr, luckily we arrived at the hotel with only 1 car accident (people don't even stop for them here).  The hotel is ok, the room is small, but has a full size bed, small bathroom, and broken black and white TV.  We met Pasang soon after arriving.  He and his friend, Ang Ngima, presented us with white silk prayer scarves (this is an extremely important gesture), then showed us around for a while.  Pasang is the boy who friends in Colorado adopted and asked us to bring cloths, school supplies, and money to.  We will meet him again tomorrow when we get our bags, then he is going to take us to his school.  On Friday he is going to walk around with us showing us the sites. 

 We will write more when we have another chance.

Namaste!

Chad & Emily

  

January 28, 2002

 Luckily enough, our bags arrived on the Thursday flight.  It was a huge relief!  In the morning we went to the tourism board to inquire about Visa extensions, which is going to be a large hassle, it will have to be done 3 separate times and each time it takes a day.  After that we walked around for the morning until we could go to the airport for our bags.  In the afternoon we went with Pasang to see where he lives, then we went to Bodhanath.  This the largest stupa in Nepal.  It was fascinating and very tranquil.  We were also able to get a tour of a local monastery where approximately 100 monks live.

 Friday morning we started some walking tours (as described by the Lonely Planet book) of the Kathmandu area.  We spent 6 hours walking from temple, stupa, bahal, and monument to the next.  It would have been much more enjoyable had it not been for all the loud car horns, the challenge of walking on a 15 foot wide road that is also shared with 2-way traffic, the beggars, and just plain old poverty everywhere.  It was very tiring. 

 Saturday, we went into the foothills (Emily, Pasang, and myself), then took a hike through the hills to one of the neighboring cities (the 3rd largest in Nepal).  The walk was great.  It was very relaxing and we met some great local people on our way.  In one of the small villages we were given a detailed tour of the temples and the people workshops.  It was an artisan town that created Hindu mantras (religious icons such as carvings, paintings, metal works, etc).  We then caught a local bus back to Kathmandu, even the busses are an experience here.

 Sunday we went to Pashupatinath.  This is the most important Hindu temple in Nepal. It sits on the Bagmati River which flows into the sacred Ganges.  The area has an enourmous temple plus it is the place where the Hindus are cremated so that their ashes can be put in the Bagmati and will eventually reach the Ganges.  When we arrived at 9:30AM, they were just preparing the first cremation, by the time we left at 11:30, there were 5 cremations in process.  The air was filled with smoke and the staunch of burning bodies and the screams of mourning families, it was a very depressing place.  The whole cremation process is a very big ritual that is followed out in detail.  It started raining yesterday afternoon and rained all night.  It will be nice to get some of the dirt and dust our of the air.  We are now going to go to Swayambunath which is the most important Buddhist Stupa in Nepal.  It is believed that a journey here just once in your life time will help you reach nirvana.

 Our health is still well but we have both developed a slight case of what I have called 'Asian Ass'.  We are hoping this clears up in a day or so when our stomachs are more accustomed to the environment around us.

Namaste!

Chad & Emily

   

January 31, 2002

 Namaste!  We are still doing well.  Our systems have returned to normal which is a relief for both of us. 

 On Monday we went to Swayambunath.  It was raining so the views from the stupa were not as great as they would have been on a clear day.  The Stupa is at the top of a large hill so you have views of the entire valley in all directions.  We will return there in April with Jesse so hopefully the views will be good at that time.   

On Tuesday we went to Patan, another of the old cities in the valley.  As is typical here, there were many old temples, stupas, monasteries, etc.  They are all interesting, but very similar in design to others, just often built to honor a different god.  The Hindu religion here has 36 million gods (there are only 23 million people in Nepal), so there are temples and holidays all of the time.  We also went to a zoo here, it was an OK zoo, but had lots of native Nepali animals.  We found the streets in the city much more difficult to navigate than Kathmandu.

 On Wednesday, we went back to Patan and went to a Tibetan Refugee Camp where they make and sell the famous Tibetan Carpets.  It was really interesting to see them being made.  We found a couple that we like, but are going to keep looking around before we purchase one.  In the evening we met Som and went to Happy Home to visit with and have dinner with the girls that we brought the clothes over for.  We had a great time.  There are 27 girls that live in the Happy Home (Friendship House is next door and houses 19 boys).  The girls are ages 6-20 and range from just starting school to a couple that are in college already.  They were very thankful for all the clothes.  They were very energetic and enjoyed showing us their pictures and seeing our pictures of North Dakota and our families.  Thank you to everyone who helped us out with the clothes.  We ended up bringing 110 lbs of clothes with us and Jesse will be brining another 40 lbs when he comes in April.

The weather has been quite cold and we have had a couple of days of rain.  To pass the time we went to the local movie hall.  This is actually just a room with a TV that shows pirated movies (movies that were recorded with a video camera in a regular cinema).  They are not the greatest quality, but the subtitles are hilarious.  The movies are in English and they have English subtitles for easier translation, the problem is, they words are not translated to subtitles very well at all (at 1 point the person said he had three kids, but the subtitles said he had freak kids).  We have decided that walking here is kind of like the video game Frogger, you walk down the sidewalk a few steps to find a good spot to start crossing, then you cross 1 lane, walk down the street a ways and cross another lane and so on until you get across the street.  We also think that we have figured out the driving.  One horn blow means I am going to cut in front of you or cut you off, 2 horn blows means I am coming, and non-stop horn blowing means I am driving down the road.  We also had another quality taxi experience, Tuesday night we had a flat tire on our taxi ride home from Patan. 

Friday morning we leave for Chitwan National Park for 3 days.  From there we will go to Lumbini (birthplace of Buddha).  Around Feb 5 we will cross the border to India and take a train first to Varanasi (a Hindu religious city on the Ganges), then take a train to Dehli.  We will return to Kathmandu around Feb 21, then head to the mountains shortly after to begin trekking.

 Namaste!

Chad & Emily

  

February, 5, 2002

Namaste!  Royal Chitwan National Park was a lot of fun.  We had a long 6 hour bus ride to get to the entrance (it was all of 130 km from Kathmandu).  From there we took a jeep through some back roads, then a boat across the river that forms the park boundary.  The resort was nice, but basic.  None of the resorts in the park have electricity in the huts, but ours did have warm water (but only from 6-9 each night).  We enjoyed 2 elephant rides in which we saw rhinos and deer, 2 nature walks seeing birds and crocodiles, and we visited a Tharu village.  They live much the same way I imagine the farmers in North Dakota lived 100 years ago.

 From Chitwan we took a bus to the border town of Bairahawa where we spent the night in a very meager hotel (sort of like a prison cell, but not as clean).  A local Nepali man we met on the bus from Chitwan helped us get acquainted in the town since our Nepali has not come along as well as we hoped and English was not widely spoken here.  The next morning we took a bus to Lumbini, this is the birthplace of Buddha.  It was a pretty plain place, but they are in the process of trying to develop it into more of a tourist attraction. 

 From Lumbini we went back to Bairahawa, then made our way into India by foot, rickshaw, bus, and train.  In all it took us 15 hours to get to Varanasi.  The trip was not the greatest as we had a 3 hour bus ride in seats that were made for 5' tall, 100lb people and we were both in 1 seat with our packs.  It was a very painful ride.  From here we had a 4 hour wait for our overnight train.  After the train ride we have both decided that our dad's don't snore so bad after all.  Not even ear-plugs could drown our the noise.  We arrived in Varanasi at 5:30 AM this morning and the train station at that hour is not a good first impression.  We have checked into a hotel where we are going to relax the rest of the day and then venture out to see the city tomorrow.   We will spend from 2-3 days here then venture on to Dehli.

FYI Varanasi sits on the Ganges River which is a sacred river to the Hindu people.  This city is considered to be one of the most holy places for a Hindu person to visit later in their life.

  

February 12, 2002

 Namaste from Pushkar, India.

 We hope that everyone is doing fine.  We are both well and enjoying our travels.  Varanasi was quite interesting.  We began with a boat ride on the Ganges during sunrise where we were able to watch the Hindu morning ritual bathing.  It is interesting that this holy river where they bath is also where the sewage drains, the ashes of cremated people are scattered and the bodies of people who cannot afford to be cremated dumped.  We then walked the 10 km stretch of the river that contains the ghats and temples and wondered the streets.  The streets are about 2m wide and run in every imaginable direction.  We walked until we felt we were extremely lost, and then used a compass to find our way back to the river.  After the ghats, went to Ram Nagar an old fort, which contained an extremely interesting museum of weapons, ivory carvings, and old transportation methods.  The most interesting part of Varanasi was Sarnath.  This is the location where Buddha gave his first sermon.  It contained a nice museum of stone Buddhist carvings dating from 200BC to 1100AD.  The area where the sermon was given was very beautiful and well maintained.  Varanasi is known for the famous Benares silk so we also spent some time looking at hand woven silk scarves and pillow covers.  Our hotel was a welcome relaxation as it had a nice garden which we spend time in each afternoon escaping the business of Varanasi.  From Varanasi we took an overnight train 12 hours to Dehli.  As was usual, the train station was quite an experience.  We passed our time watching the rats crawl around the people sleeping on the ground. 

Arriving in Dehli was a welcome change.  Saubhik met us and spent the day with us, it was great to see a familiar face.  We booked a 7-day tour then spent the rest of the day visiting (the tour has been a welcome relief of not having to deal with train, rickshaws, and hotels on our own).  Dehli is a very clean city with excellent roads.  There are even stoplights!  From Dehli we left for Agra, which is home to the Taj Mahal.  The Taj Mahal itself was magnificent.  Its size is enormous and the amount of work that went into it is not even imaginable.  Saubhik informed us that upon its completion, the thumbs or the architects and engineers were removed so that they could not repeat the building.  We also visited a couple of forts and tombs in Agra, and then continued to Jaipur.  Jaipur is another city with mostly forts and temples to see.  We took in a couple of them and will see the rest on our way back to Dehli later in the week.  We are now in Pushkar, which is another Hindu holy city.  The city is located on the edge of the sand desert so we are looking forward to seeing the desert.  The city itself is very different from other places.  There is not meat, eggs, and alcohol allowed in the city, and the laws for tourist are very strict.  We will be spending 3 nights and 2 days here and are looking forward to using it as a chance to relax.  As a white tourist India is very tiring, it is a constant stress to battle off the beggars, salesman, sadhues (holy men wanting money), and cows.

  

Friday, March 29

 Namaste!  We are back to pseudo-civilization.  We had a remarkable 31-day trek through the Annapurna range of the Himalayas.  The scenary, villages, people, and everything else about the trek were fantastic.  Both of our health is now good, though our bodies have been through a lot of wear and tear and are in dire need of some rest and repair.  The 19 days before we start our next trek are much needed not only for our bodies to repair, but also for us to spend time cleaning and repairing gear.  We have found that trekking for this long has been hard on everything (bodies and gear alike). 

Our hike started us at 700 M elevation, took us to 5416 M (17,769 ft), back down to 1100 M, up to 4200 M, then back down to 1100 M before we returned to Pokhara.  In total we ascended 20,250 M (66, 437 ft or 12.6 miles) and descended 19, 466 M (63, 864 ft or 12.1 miles).  This is the equivalent of almost 3 Mount Everest's.  At the higher elevations we were in all conditions from 50km/hr winds and extremely freezing conditions (sort of like growing up in North Dakota) to such bright sun reflections off the snow that the temperatures were unbearably hot.  We witnessed several avalanches, 1 of which caught 3 people in about 1 hour ahead of us on the trail (luckily non were injured, just shaken), another of which killed 4 people just 10 days prior to our crossing it.  This caused us to use a lot of caution in avalanch areas and hike early in the morning when the danger was lower.  We met a lot of people from all corners of the world and spent 10 days trekking with 2 Americans from the east coast that we had a lot of good times with (including spending both of our birthdays with). 

 The highlight (or low point) of our trip was contracting Giardia.  This is a protozoan infection from contaminated water.  We are still trying to figure out how 2 microbiologists could get this.  We believe that it was from drops of water on the lips of our bottles that did not come into contact with our water treatment.  Anyway, the main symptoms of this is continuous sulfur gas, belches, stomach cramps, and mild diarrhea (due to the gas we were thankful that we got this together).  We had to carry this for 14 days (luckily the symptoms come and go) before we reached a health post where we were able to purchase metronidazole which cleared it up in a couple days.

 Anyway, we have had a great time and are now going to spend more time resting and recuperating ourselves in Pokhara.  There is another scheduled strike in Nepal, this time April 2-6 so again all shops and transportation will be closed.  We hope everyone is doing fine and that spring has finally approached.  We look forward to hearing from everyone.

  

February 19, 2002

 Namaste everyone!

 We are again back in Kathmandu.  It has been an interesting week.  I (Chad) spent a couple of days in bed with a stomach infection from a dinner in Pushkar and have been recovering since that time.  Since I was sick, we were not able to see the desert and do some of the walking around the Pushkar area that we had planned.  Upon leaving Pushkar, we spent another night in Jaipur, but did not take in many sites, as I still did not have much energy to do anything.  We returned to Dehli on Friday and I was finally feeling better.  I was craving a sandwich (I had not been able to eat a meal since Tuesday) and we actually found a TGIF for dinner.  We felt a little guilty eating in an American place, but it was our first American food since we left the states so it was really a treat.  We spent Saturday seeing the sites of Dehli, then spent Sunday with Saubhik, his girlfriend and roommate.  We had a great time with them.  We spent the day at a place called Dehli Haat, which is just a large market area.  It was nice because there were none of the usual tourist annoyances.  Sunday brought some troubles for Western Nepal, but from what we hear and see, they are very localized to that area.  We have a couple of days in Kathmandu, and then we will leave for Pokhara.  We will spend a few days relaxing in this town before we begin our trek around the Annapurna's. 

 We are both now healthy and happy to be back in the relaxed atmosphere of Kathmandu, but are even more anxious to get into the mountains.  We have been site seeing for over 4 weeks and we have realized that our limit of being a regular tourist is about 2-3 weeks.  A person can only see so many monuments, forts, temples, stupa's, etc before they all start to blend together and lose their individuality.

  

February 24, 2002

Namaste.  We have had a relaxing few days in both Kathmandu and Pokhara making

preparations for trekking. We will be hitting the trail on Monday, 25 Feb and be  spending 30 days on the trail. During that time we will have no internet access so we will  not have any updates until the end of March.

 Pokhara is absolutely beautiful. From our hotel, we can lie in bed and see Machhapuchhre, Mardi Himal, Annapurna South, and Annapurna I. This is not a bad deal for only a few dollars a day. After arriving here and seeing the mountains,  we are both very excited to get on the trail so we have decided to leave a few days early.

 We hope everyone is still doing well. We are both in good health again and once again enjoying our travels.

 

April 15, 2002

 Namaste.  We hope that this finds everyone is good health.  We are back in Kathmandu and doing fine.  Our friend Jesse arrives today and we are very excited to see him.  We will be leaving on Thursday for 28 days trekking in the Solu-Khumu (Everest) Region.   The day after we return from trekking we leave for a 4-day canyoning and white water rafting trip so this will be the last update until mid to late May.

 Our time has seemed to fly by the last couple of weeks and we have been very busy.  While still in Pokhara, we spent a day walking up to the Peace Pogada which is a large stupa located high above the lake.  It was a nice walk uphill through the forests and had great views from the stupa itself.  We spent a day in Pokhara riding bike, this was quite an experience.  We paid extra for "mountain bikes", this basically means they had gears, which did not work, and no brakes (as opposed to no gears of brakes for the other bikes).  It was an experience to ride these up and down the hilly streets while trying to dodge suicidal bus drivers and motorcycles.  We rode up to Mahendra Gufa, which is a large cave occupied by thousands of bats, it was pretty cool to see (even Emily thought so).  We also spent an afternoon on the lake in a paddleboat, it was a nice to get some quiet after being back on streets for a week. 

 The strike that was planned for the entire country was postponed until the end of April, so we were able to return to Kathmandu earlier than expected.  We thought once we got here we would have time to relax, but we have been busy doing things every day.  We spent another day with the girls of Happy Home, and again had a great time with them, they quite energetic.  We also spent a day hiking up to Jamacho Peak in Nagarjun National Forest.  There was a stupa on the peak and a lookout tower from which on a clear day you can see all the peaks from the Annapurna's to those in the Langtang area (far west to far east of the country).  Unfortunately due to the pre-monsoon weather, it was cloudy when we were there.  April 12 I observed the Ghode Jatra (Emily needed a rest day), this is a horse festival where riders compete in front of all the government officials (including the king) in various events.  It was probably most fun people watching here.  I was here for 4 hours before the event, then left 30 minutes after it started.  There were too many people (with crowds that were becoming riotous), too many politicians, too many police, and too many guns to be a safe place.  Saturday morning we went to a temple called Dakshinkali, this is the site of weekly Hindu sacrifices.  It is the largest Hindu sacrifice site in all of Nepal and being New Year's Eve it was especially busy.  People were waiting in line for hours to have their chickens, ducks, goats, or water buffalo sacrificed to Kali.  It was quite a bloody site, but worth the trip.  On the Annapurna trek we met a lady from Edmonton who now lives in the Kathmandu Valley doing physical therapy training, we were invited for dinner at her house on Saturday night and had a wonderful time.  It is nice to be able to sit down and have a conversation, it has been a while since we have done that with other people.  The Nepali New Year begins on April 14, so we celebrated the first day of year 2059 at a festival called Bisket.  On New Year's Eve they have a large chariot (wheels of solid wood over 2 M high) that they have a tug of war with and they erect a 25 M high pole, we were there on New Years Day to see the pole be grounded (in a big crash amidst the people) and the chariot being pulled to the other side of town in another tug-of-war.  There were thousands of people there and we had a lot of fun

  

April 17, 2002

 Namaste!  All is well with us.  Jesse arrived without any problems and we have been busy showing him around the city.  We leave tomorrow (Thursday) for another 28 days of trekking.  This trek will take us through the Solu-Khumbu Region and will include a trip to Everest Base Camp as well as trekking to the tops of several peaks of elevation around 5500 M.

 As an addition to some of the details of our Annapurna trek, we traveled approximately 450 km in the 31 days of trekking.

 All else is well and we will write again when we return in a month.

  

May 12, 2002

 We have completed our trek in the Solu-Khumbu region of Nepal.  We spent 23 days trekking here, which was shorter than the original 28 days planned.  The trek was equally as beautiful as the Annapurna region and also equally as challenging.  The major difference was in the quality of the lodges, we were 15 days between showers on the trek so needless to say we all really appreciated our first shower when we were done trekking.  In the 23 days we trekked approximately 220 miles, ascended 18,259 M (11.3 miles), descended 17,269 M (10.7 miles), and reached a high altitude of 5,575-M (18,291 feet).  We spent 9 days above 4,000 M (13,123 feet) which we found to be very challenging both physically and mentally.  At this elevation it is always cold and the air is extremely thin.  Between the 3 of us we only had problems with altitude one night, this was the night that we slept at 5,170 M (16,962 feet).  The trip rewarded us with good weather (at least as good as can be expected in the pre-monsoon season) and some excellent views of mountains like Everest, Cho Oyu, Lothse, and Makalu all of which are over 8,000 M as well as views of dozens of smaller but equally as beautiful peaks like Ama Dablam, Lobuche, Cholatse, Thamserku, Kantega, Kyashar, and more. 

 All of our health is after the trek and we all remained basically healthy during the trek.  We have found that after close to 500 miles of trekking our bodies are in definite need of some rest.  Our feet now hurt every day as do our hips and shoulders from carrying our packs.  We have a few days left in Kathmandu before leaving for some "vacation" in Thailand.  In theses days we will be doing some last minute sightseeing and shopping as well as going on a 4-day canyoning and white-water rafting trip. 

We hope that everyone is still in good health and enjoying their spring.

Chad & Emily

  

May 27, 2002

 Sawatdee, this is hello in Thai.  We have had a great last couple of weeks.  After returning to Kathmandu we had a couple of days to rest then went on a 4-day white water rafting and canyoning trip (2 days of each).  We thought the rivers coming out of the tallest mountains in the world would have incredible rivers to run.  The rivers were actually pretty mello.  We did get to experience a rural Nepal hospital as Jesse caught hit in the face with a paddle blade and needed a couple of stiches just under the nose.  A river guide with extensive first aid experience and myself both supervised the doctor.  They had amazingly good technique and were quite sterile in their work, especially when you consider how filthy the hospital was.  One of the exciting parts of the trip was that we got to ride in the front of one of the Tata brand trucks, these are the local transport trucks that have a back seat that becomes a 2-tier sleeper for the driver and rider.  They typically pick up locals during the day and we just happened to catch a ride one day. 

 We spent the last few days in Kathmandu doing some last minute site-seeing and a little shopping.  We left Nepal on May 19 heading for Thailand.  It was sad to leave Nepal after 4 months of being there.  The culture and people really grow on a person.  It also seemed to have marked the end of our travels and the beginning of our vacation. 

 When we arrived in Thailand we spent the night in Bangkok, then headed to Krabi province to go to Railay Beach for some rest, relaxation, and most importantly the best rock climbing in Thailand.  The area is only semi-developed.  You take a "long boat" (literally a long boat with a Toyota engine mounted on the stern and a long shaft sticking out of it with the propeller) to get there as it is on a peninsula with no road access.  The place looks very much like some of the places shown in the movie "The Beach".  We spent 7 days in Railay and were able to climb for 5 of them (we only climb about half the day, then either sit on the beach or wait for the daily rains to subside).  We are now in Ao Nang where tomorrow we take a Thai cooking course, then we leave for a 2-day/7-dive trip.  Upon return we will go back to Railay for 2 more days of climbing then move on to Ko Lanta for 4 days of beach. 

We hope that everyone has been having a wonderful spring and look forward to seeing you when we return.

 Chad/Emily

  

June 13, 2002

 We have arrived safely and soundly at home.  After spending time scuba diving and at Ko Lanta, we climbed at Railay for 1 more day, then headed for Bangkok.  The trip to Bangkok was quite long, 14 hours in a bus.  Bangkok was extremely hot, around 40C, and humid, 80-100%.  It made summer in Minnesota feel not so bad.  We spent 5 days in Bangkok seeing as many sites in the heat as we could.  There are literally hundred of Wats (Buddhist Temples) in Bangkok itself.  The Thais practice a Theravuda Buddhism as opposed to Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal.  The differences between the 2 are absolutely amazing.  The largest difference is that the Tibetan Buddhist Temples are very old, made of wood, and not as ornately decorated.  The Theravuda Buddhist Temples are relatively new, the oldest being only 200-300 years old, they are very large concrete structures that are ornately decorated with glistening gold, green, and red paint.

 We departed for Minneapolis on June 12.  We needed to be at the airport at 4:00 AM so after 20 hours of travel when we landed at the Minneapolis airport, it had made for a long day.  Kari and Troy were kind enough to pick us up from the airport and put us up at their house for a few days.  It was a relief not to have to worry about a finding a place to stay.  It is nice to return to Minneapolis and see family and friends, but the adjustment is going to take quite some time to get used to living in this type of society again after 5 months. 

 We would like to thank all of our family and friends for the help and support they have given us in planning and taking this trip.

 Chad/Emily