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Om Mani Padme Hum From Nepal
Rating : (4.4)

Kathmandu, Nepal
Mar 16, 2003 08:10

Pros: beautiful view of the Mt. Everest, trekking in the mountains
Cons: none

Hello to everyone from the Mystical Kingdom of Nepal!

We arrived in the capital, Kathmandu, on February 27th and instantly fell in love with the place ... I know we've said that about every single country we've gone to, but this time it's real, true love. In fact we love Kathmandu so much that we haven't really been anywhere else yet! We've just been hanging around here and the surrounding valley for the last two weeks. We've met a lot of wonderful people who have been showing us around and helping us out.

We took in a couple of shows that were part of an international jazz festival that was going on here, Jazzmandu. We also have visited the ancient city of Bhaktapur, which is actually connected to Kathmandu.

Our biggest excursion so far was a short two day trip up a ridge on the eastern edge of the Kathmandu valley to a village called Nagrakot. We were lured there by the promise of awesome views of the valley and Mt. Everest! We arrived in the lofty, little village early in the afternoon, but alas, it was cloudy and we couldn't see too much. We settled for enjoying the amenities of the nice hotel we were staying at and went to sleep early with visions of the sun rising to light Mt. Everest filling our dreams. The next morning we were up early with renewed hopes of seeing the highest point on the entire earth. We watched in silence and awe as the sun gradually rose over the mighty Himalayas ... it was beautiful. As darkness was slowly replaced by light, we scurried to find Mt. Everest using the little map they give tourists that has the outline of several prominent mountains on it. Finally we found it ... the highest peak we could see! It wasn't where they told us it would be, towards the east by the rising sun where it was all foggy. It was more towards the north, but we figured the locals probably didn't look at it too much anymore and maybe they had forgotten where it was. It also didn't really look much like the drawing we had, but it was probably rendered by some third rate artist looking at it from a different vantage point. Anyway, we snapped up several dozen really nice photos as the sun illuminated it's striking features. By the time the sun was fully risen we were satisfied that we had a lot of great shots of the famous peak and we went to have some breakfast. After ordering we began to review all of our great pictures of Mt. Everest, the highest point on earth, on our digital camera. When our waiter curiously looked over our shoulders to see what we were gawking at we proudly informed him ... "our pictures of Mt. Everest!" He leaned in a little further to get a better look and withdrew rather quickly with a surprised look on his face. Certain that he was quite impressed with our photos I asked rhetorically in Canadian, "nice, eh?" His answer crushed me as if the great mountain itself had just landed on my chest ... "No, this is not Everest". So we have a lot of awesome shots of some other mountain and we still haven't seen Everest. The good news is that most other people haven't seen Everest either and they won't know the difference when we show them our photos. Later that day we hiked down to the valley floor with our tails between our legs. It was a nice, quiet hike, but we didn't take too many more photos. Now we are thinking that we may take one of the early morning mountain flights to see the real thing ... they only fly when Everest is visible and hopefully the pilot knows where it is!

Tomorrow is a day called Holi. It has some kind of religious significance (like almost every other day of the year in Asia), but the bottom line is that everyone takes part in a gigantic paint and water fight! I've bought a cheap t-shirt to wear and will join in the festivities ... Jayne plans on watching from a safe restaurant terrace as locals are eager to apply paint and water to foreign women using a hands-on approach.

In a few days we will head north-west to Pokhara to do some trekking in the mountains.

Anyone familiar with the recent political history of Nepal may be glad to know that things are currently very safe here. The Maoist rebels that have been trying to take over the country by force have agreed to a cease fire with the government and talks are planned to resolve the conflict.

One other note ... our plans to go to Tibet have sadly, been effectively quashed by the Chinese. The visas we obtained in Bangkok were unceremoniously cancelled and the Chinese are currently making it very difficult to get around in and see much of Tibet. Our own little protest to this crap has been to decide not to go there (on this trip, at least) ... I'm sure the Chinese will be very upset. Anyway, this will give us more time to see beautiful Nepal and a great excuse to come back again.

One other tidbit of news we must share ... we got tickets to see the Rolling Stones in Bangkok when we go back there on April 8th. We just hope Mick and Keith will still be alive to do the show.

After the concert we'll go to Hawaii via Tokyo for one last week in the sun. Then we'll fly direct from Hawaii to Edmonton and will arrive home on April 18th! Sorry to everyone in Vancouver and B.C. ... we'll have to come out and visit later in the spring or the summer.

Till next time ... take care of each other and God Bless everyone.

Love Arnold & Jayne
Om Mani Padme Hum ... Om Mani Padme Hum ... Om Mani Padme Hum ... Om Mani Padme Hum ...