After a rather uneventful flight to Beijing and Chengdu, the trip to Kathmandu started off with a scare. In San Francisco, the Air China check in lady said I could check my big red roller all the way to Kathmandu. But when I got to the check in counter in Chengdu, the lady there looked at my ticket with a wide stare then started speaking into her walkie talkie in a tone I could only describe as stressed. She then looked at me and said you can't check your bag all the way through to Kathmandu, it's sitting in Terminal 2 and you have to go get it. Now, Chengdu is a big airport and Terminal 2 is close to a kilometer away from where I was, Terminal 1. So I had to run over there, with my carryon on my back, find where my bag was, ask directions where no one speaks english, somehow find where the bag was, get it, then run back to Terminal 1 and check it in, and go through security (no lines!!). I think I may have slightly strained my hamstring by doing this, but I made it with about 10 minutes to spare. By the time I reached the gate I was sweating like the perverbial pig. Whew!! Let's hope that's the only scary part of the trip.
Mt Everest (I think) from the plane.
And coincidentally, shortly after,
Arrived in Kathmandu on time, but my guide Nirajan was stuck in traffic. So got to hang around some of the local guides who were at the airport and had a good time with them. Nirajan showed up and drove me to our nice hotel, the Manaslu. It's near the Royal Palace. After a quick lunch of veggie curry, I went to the Thamel area. This is an old part of town with lots of really cool shops selling Nepalese jewelry, antiques, cashmere scarves and sweaters and really fine quality thankas. Lots of tourists there, mostly young euros who still believe in hippies, if you know what I mean. The local shopkeepers are really nice and aren't too high pressure like in other parts of the world.
In Peru, baby llama is the wool of choice, but here in Nepal...
And then there was this little oddity...
After an almost equally long trip, Nance and Trina arrived. In the evening we were taken to a "Welcome dinner" hosted by our two guides, Nirajan and K.B. The dinner consisted of some tasty Nepalese delicacies, all served on a big metal plate surrounding a mound of rice. There were fried potatoes, mo-mos (a dumpling), curry vegetables, curry chicken, wild boar (my favorite), a spinach dish, dahl, and lentil soup. During dinner we were entertained with some local music and dance. One of the dances was a guy dressed in a peacock suit, his arm extended out as the head of the peacock, which he used to grab small bills from the audience. That was by far the most entertaining part.
Monday, the second day in Kathmandu, was a tour of the city's historic district. First we went to the famous Boudanath temple, a huge Buddhist stupa that was built in the 1st Century. This is the famous white stupa that supposedly has a piece of the Buddha's backbone somewhere inside (most of the important Buddhist buildings usually have to have a piece of the Buddha somewhere in them). Here there were many pilgrims going around the stupa turning the prayer wheels. Both scions must always be clockwise.
Our last stop was Durbar square, with many temples, palaces and pidgeons. I'm not sure what the Nepalese love for pigeons is all about, but there are a lot of them here.
Me and a Gurkha.