31 March 2008

Kathmandu

I got all choked up at the first view of the Himalayas from the airplane. Of course the photos I tried to take could not capture it.

The Kathmandu airport is red brick, it kind of reminded me of my high school. My friend Lisa was already there waiting, I was so thankful! She's been many times, but I was a bit hesitant. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but I came to really like this place and the people.

The Nepali people seemed to remember us even if we only saw one another one or two times. The guy making T-shirts just outside our guest house started saying "Namaste, didi!" or, Hello, older sister!

Here are some photos from Kathmandu.

26 March 2008

My Trek in Numbers

Number of days trekking14
Total distance trekked95km/59mi (?)
Lowest elevation in the mountains2652m/8700ft
Highest elevation I slept at4750m/15,584ft
Highest elevation I climbed to5357m/17,575ft
Herds of yaks or yak-cows we passed on the trailabout 40
Cups of hot drinks imbibedat least 70
Number of showers taken0
Number of times I washed my hair1
Number of They Might Be Giants Songs we sang12
Coldest temperature I noted in my bedroom in a lodge29F/-2C
Moments of beauty and wondercountless

11 March 2008

NO? no, YES!

Nepalis do this cute little head bobble when they are saying "yes." Think of asking someone if you can do something, they don't really want you to, but can't really say no, so they sort of do this "yeah, whatever, not really" kind of head jiggle thing. It's kind of like that.

I'm glad Lisa told me what it meant. Even after she told me, I forgot. I asked the guy at our guest house, "We'd like to pay for our stay tonight. Can we pay now?" He bobbled his head, and I was like, "No? OK, maybe later..." and Lisa had to remind me, "That means YES!" Right. OK. Here you go. Whew!

10 March 2008

A little creepy but turned out fine

Lisa and I were looking for a particular trekking agency here in Kathmandu. We were in the general area. A guy at a pizza shop said, "Sorry I don't know...Oh, yes, I know. Over there."

[side note: The people here are so nice.]

So we went that way. One lane had lots of trekking agency signs, but not the one we were looking for. We headed down the lane in faith, and kept asking people every few steps. They kept pointing us back to this suspicious building at the end of that alley.

Some guy in military clothes (not unusual, lots of soldiers around) finally pointed us through an unmarked door, and once inside, another directed us up the stairs. We came up to a room with 4 guys at computers who kind of looked at us blankly, and cautiously ventured, "Helllloooo... is this Green Lotus Trekking?"

I felt like Eunice on What's Up, Doc, when she was directed to 459 Dorilla street and asked, "This isn't the... Larrabee... Those are Howard's Rocks! What on earth are you doing with Howard's rocks? Errhhhuahhh..."

Thankfully, THIS was legit, they had just moved and not gotten proper signage. The guy was very nice, helpful, and nothing scary at all happened.

Pretty funny experience, anyway!

08 March 2008

It's my Birthday!

Guess what I did for my birthday?

Last night I had Japanese hot pot (shabu shabu) with 7 friends at a fun place along the river in Chiang Mai.

Then, early this morning I flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, and saw my first glimpse of the majestic Himalayas (from the airplane). It really is surreal.

Overall, the experience has been pretty overwhelming...

--red brick airport (looks kind of like my high school!)
--people inviting us to check out their trekking company
--lots of brilliant colors (saris for sale, people wearing)
--I'm amazed that I'm here. I find myself feeling pretty introverted and uncertain.
--cute kids saying 'hello'
--Pretty rough, old, even "falling-apart" looking buildings.
--dirt roads
--lots of honking horns
--a pretty basic room in a guest house

I'll learn more in the next days.

Lisa has spent a lot of time here, so she's a big help. We'll probably hang around town for a couple of days and then hopefully head out on a trek! Don't know exactly how to get photos from my camera onto my blog at an internet cafe... If so I'll post, if not, after I get back!

04 March 2008

Motivation

Seems like things are pretty easy-going here in Thailand.

Last month I paid my electric bill a little late. I normally pay at the 7/11, but after the due date you have to go to the City Electricity Office. I was prepared for a long wait, but it took about 5 mintues (once I figured out where to go--10 minutes of looking and asking). No problem.

THIS month was a different story. The bill was sitting on our table one day, I thought a housemate would pay it. Three days later it was still there, so I put it in my wallet for when I'd pass a 7/11. I was busy with a training seminar all week and so when I finally got to the 7/11 on Friday we saw that it was past due, and it was too late to go to the City Office.

Monday when I came home from my Thai lesson, the electricity was out. I did not get the correlation between that and my unpaid bill, because the last time it was NO PROBLEM, right??

Well, there were millions of people at the Electricity Office that day so I skipped it. Still no electricity... which for me means no water except for in the kitchen. Why, you ask? Our water gets pumped upstairs by an electric pump. Broken Pump? no water. Electricity out? no water.

That night as I got ready for bed by candlelight and washed up out of a bucket, it hit me! "Is it because I haven't paid my BILL?? Surely not, this is THAILAND, where people get away with tons of illegal things all the time" (i.e. not wearing motorcycle helmets).

Well, sure 'nuff. Tuesday, went to the Electric Office first thing. 104 people were ahead of me in line, but it went fast... waited maybe 20 minutes. I asked him, "Is my electricity out because I haven't paid?" "That's right" "It will come back after I pay?" [Nod.]

That was roughly 9:30am. Finally, after showering at my gym for the last two days (kitchen has water but it's only COLD), around 7:30pm my electricity was back!

I'm guessing there's some new policy about late payments, and they're really cracking down. There is a one-week period in which you can pay the bill. After that, apparently, OFF GO THE LIGHTS.

That will certainly motivate locals (and foreigners!) to pay the bill on time.