Namaste is a greeting in Nepal – we’d say it when passing locals in town and on the trail.
In case you haven’t heard, Chris and I are back from Nepal and we’re ENGAGED! Chris proposed to me on my birthday when we were out trekking. I couldn’t post or tell anyone about until 6 days later!
Here’s a photo we used on facebook to announce our engagement. This is where Chris proposed to me! After a long day of hiking we hiked back to this spot and he told me that he wanted to be with me forever and got down on his knee. I did not see it coming!
Since I was limited to my cell phone battery life for photos and postings, I thought I’d do a big blog photo gallery with some of the highlights from our trip. If you want to see our whole collection of photos, visit Chris’s Picasa album here: https://plus.google.com/photos/116343177352898184007/albums/5805642992823024609?authkey=CJbHsInu0LrouwE
We had a really great trip and enjoyed it a lot. Overall, people in Nepal were very welcoming and it was a very nice place to travel. From the beauty of the Annapurna region, to the madness of Kathmandu, we really feel that we had a good experience of the area. I learned a lot about the Hindu and Buddhist religions and how the practices are such a part of daily life there. There’s sometimes a temple right in the middle of a busy crazy part of the city. People enter into the temple and slow down and go back out into the heavy traffic.
Such a different case in the Himalayas when we were trekking. It was a constant escape. No electrical outlets in any of the lodges we stayed in made it easy to unplug and let go. We’d wake up with the sun (or a the noise of a rooster), spend the day trekking and go to bed shortly after the sun went down. The time we spent in the mountains was so simple and enjoyable, I’ve already found myself trying to find that again at home, reminding myself to slow down.
A good example of our first day in Kathmandu. Bikes, Rickshaws, Cars, Motorcycles and people on the street. No traffic lights, just some sort of informal chaos. Lots of honking.
I drank my first bottled water in over 2 years. It was a sad moment for me. The water there is very unsafe for visitors to drink and there’s not really any other options in the city. Be glad to know that I brought every bottle of water I drank home to the US to recycle! All 4 of them.
Pretty blue doors in Kathmandu.
On our second day in Kathmandu we had an organized tour by our tour company. Here’s us at Swayambhu Stupa on the first stop on our tour.
Boudha. This is the most classic shot of Nepal. It is one of the largest stupas on the world and the most important Tibetan Buddhist monuments outside Tibet. Buddhists walk around it in the morning and evenings while praying. The colored flags have different prayers on them and the wind blowing through them is said to be “saying” the prayer.
At most stupas there’s Buddhists walking clockwise around them and touching the prayer wheels. The wood circular things in the top right of the photo have prayers and Buddhists spin them to say the prayers written on them.
We then went to Pashupatinath, a Hindu holy site and saw this. Inside this trailer is a cow with “3 eyes”. It’s sorta deformed, almost like a Siamese twin. Hindus are anxious to see it because they believe cows are sacred, especially since this one has a “3rd eye” a symbol of enlightenment.
Kathmandu is pretty polluted and dirty. It’s pretty dusty and a lot of people wear face masks to not breathe in the dust. They don’t really have a system for trash removal. Made it really hard for me to drink anything from a plastic bottle!
On our 3rd day we went to Pokhara – it’s basically the last big-ish city before getting on the trail. A really nice little vacation town on a lake.
The next day was our first day of trekking. Here’s Chris and I at the trailhead. Don’t we look clean?
Craig and I coming into Birethanti – all trekkers in the Annapurna region have to check in and out here.
We saw a ton of goats on the trail. We came during a big Hindu festival where each family buys a goat and sacrifices it and eats it, so TONS of goats were headed down from the mountains to be sold in the city. Bye Bye goats!
An environmental message at our first guest house in Tikedhunga.
Our second day of trekking we had to hike some 3300 stairs. Craig was not into this day. It was pretty tough.
Marigolds are very popular in Nepal. They make garlands around festival time and use them at Hindu and Buddhist religious worships and rituals.
A photo of us next to one of the first waterfalls we saw. Little did we know, we’d see over 20 more. Almost to the point they were no big deal, ha!
We got passed by donkeys too. People that live in the Himalayas use donkeys to transport things to and from places.
Notice the cute little boy holding that lady’s hand? I passed him before she did and he put out his hand and at first I said “no” because I assumed he was begging (which many kids there do). Then he tried again and held my hand for a little bit and walked up the stairs with me. Turns out a little later he did the same thing to this lady! He held onto this tourist’s hand for about 20 minutes walking up the stairs. What a cutie!
Chris and I woke up early on day 4 to hike up Poon Hill to see the sunrise. It was really pretty! A photo of me, Arjun (our Guide) and Chris. Machhapuchhre (Fish Tail) is on the way right and Annapurna in the middle above Arjun.
Chris and I.
The whole group minus Chris. Our porters carried our duffel bags on their heads with a strap. Ram is the guy next to Craig and Santos on the right.
Chris and I. This woman we met on the trail told me how to pose like a model. How do you think I look?
Most of the bathrooms on the trail were squat toilets. Thanks to Erica, I knew what to expect and how to get the job done. This one goes down as the worst one. Yuck!
The inside of a not so nice squat toilet. You put your feet on the two “foot-holds” and pee (or poop) in the white hole cover. It’s pretty unpleasant. We all came to appreciate the few lodges we stayed at with a flush toilet. We started to call those “Hollywood Toilets” after awhile.
A pretty shot of some scarves that were being sold across the path from the stinky toilet.
A lunch stop and some chickens next to me. I didn’t feel the need to order chicken for lunch that day. Or ever, really. We didn’t eat meat on the trail – just felt too strange to eat animals that you pass on the trail.
Another “take care of nature” sign with a good attempt at English.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was hanging out at the lodge dining hall around dinner time. We met people from all over the world and everyone would just hang out and get to know each other. Here’s Craig next to a teenage boy from Denmark who realizes Chris is taking a secret photo.
The lodge we stayed at Chuile – one of the most gorgeous spots on the trail!
The next day was my birthday!! More hiking!
Crossing a bridge on the way to Chhomrong.
We had lunch in Chhomrong and picked up a birthday cake from a German Bakery. All bakeries in Nepal are called “German Bakeries”. I’m not sure why. I didn’t know Germany was known for it’s sweets.
Chhomrong was one of the bigger places along the trail. Lots of lodges and places catering to tourists.
We got to Sinua and I took a cold shower (that I thought was going to be hot) and got into my sleeping bag to warm up and then Chris woke me up and told me to come on a walk with him. We walked about 20 minutes away from the guest house and he proposed! Here’s another shot from the spot.
A photo of us about an hour after the big event.
Time to celebrate! A birthday and an engagement!
Our crew! Craig, me, Chris, Arjun, Ram and Santos.
Arjun, Ram and Santos gave me some white scarves which are given to people of honor in Nepal and Tibet. Really sweet.
Hiking and getting passed by sheep today.
We didn’t have nearly as much vegetation as a few days ago, instead we were hiking in rocks and clouds. That’s not fog in front of us!
A tough hike today. We hiked to Deuarli at abou 12,000 feet. The altitude was hard for Craig today. Notice his headache?
The view of the galley near Deurali.
We were hiking up to Machapurchare and our guide pointed out the Buddha in the rock, cool huh? It’s in the middle top of the photo where the rock is a lighter color.
Ice cave. Snowboarding anyone?
We made it to Machapurchare Base Camp. Only one higher spot to go on our trek – Annapurna Base Camp!
Ram and Santos soaking in the sun at 13,000 feet.
After the sun went down, it got cold at Machapurchare Base Camp. We huddled in the lodge to stay warm and the owner told us the sun was setting and we had to come out and see it. It was worth it! Here’s the sunset on Machapurchare.
If you were following my blog, you know I didn’t make it to Annapurna Base Camp in the morning the next day. I woke up and saw my breath as I used the squat toilet and then put on all the layers I had and I still wasn’t warm. It had been a cold night and I just could not wrap my head around hiking in the cold up to Annapurna. I do regret not going, but at the time I needed to chill out, get warm and rest.
Chris made it! You can barley tell! He blends in with the building!
And we head down. Here’s a photo of Dovan. I had a really hard time finding a photo from here when I was posting before we left, so here’s one for someone else to use.
We began our climb back down and really started to relax and enjoy our time. We stopped at a German Bakery for some really good coffee and pastries.
We stayed in Jhinua and went to some hot springs.
Last day of trekking before we hike out. We stopped and Arjun bought us Coke. Delicious!
Yep, I get to marry this guy. I’m a sucker for the beard and the bandana look. Gets me every time.
He gets to marry me and take annoying photos of me when I’m not paying attention.
At Birethanti, same place we started. Checkin’ out.
Success! Taking a taxi back to Pokahara for a shower, restaurant food and some R&R.
I wanted to eat here for dinner, but no one else did. Who know there was a Zorbaz in Pokahara?
All the busses and trucks were very decorated. Check this one out. Do you think Chris and I should decorate Snowflake and Lobster?
We went back to Kathmandu for a day before our flight back to the US and Pat and I rode a rickshaw. Here’s a photo from our ride!
Going for a rickshaw ride. We cut it short because we felt so bad for the driver working his butt off to pedal us!
I’d see these people go to shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara and collect money in a bucket. They’re Hindu holy men who pretty much sit or walk around and collect money. Some tourists would get their photos taken with them for a donation. I didn’t do that; it’d be weird.
Our tour company and Arjun took us out to a traditional Nepalese dinner with traditional dancing. We didn’t know what to expect when Arjun told us to meet him for dinner, but were pleasantly surprised!
It was a great trip. Huge thanks to everyone who helped make it possible – from Craig for the invite, Chris for pushing me to go, my family for not worrying too much, Erica for not telling me things that’d freak me out, Tara/Jim & Tiffanie for giving me the time off work and all the people I met when I was there and helped me to see the world in a different way.