Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Namasti to all!

I write to you from Kathmandu, Nepal. This is the first of several emails going to a wide list of people who expressed interest in hearing my stories. Some of you may have heard pieces, but this will provide a good summary of my adventure thus far.

Upon arrival in Bangkok, I found myself thrust into the middle of the Sangkrong Festival - the Thai New Year, also known as the water festival. The Thais filled the streets bearing water guns and pails of mud. As I tunneled through the sea of black heads, trying to reach my hotel, the Thais smeared the mud on my face and shot me with their water guns. After quickly changing in my room, I re-emerged on the street to get a better feel for the madness outside. I hung out with a Canadian, French and New Yorker. Several drinks later, the chaos seemed more bearable.

The next morning made the evening festivities seem tame. As soon as I stepped outside my hotel, I was confronted by an enormous mob of Thais waiting to nail the tall white guy (and boy did they ever!). For 3 days I was terrorized every time I stepped outside. I learned every back ally and walked through people's homes to avoid the chaos. I never made it out of Bangkok during those few days.

My friend Steve arrived as the chaos was abating and the next day, Bangkok returned to it's usual pace. What a relief! That night, we boarded our flight to Nepal. We were excited to finally reach the country we had spoken of for so long! Our arrival, however, was less enchanting than we would have liked.

It was midnight when we deplaned and there were few lights to help us see our way. As we stepped outside of the airport, 20 people surrounded each of us, yelling about their taxi, hotel, or god knows what else they wanted from us. Steve and I could hardly speak to each other over the roar of their pleas. Thinking I was being smart, I approached the only car that actually appeared to be a taxi and asked to be taken to Thamel (the backpacker ghetto). As we got into the taxi, one of the same people who badgered us ealier got into the front passenger seat. "Uh oh" we thought.

As the taxi (well, ok, it obviously wasn't a taxi) crawled through the streets, Steve and I were shocked by the remoteness of our surroundings. We crawled around pot-holes and dilapidated houses. There was no highway, or any signs of civilization in sight. The only light that guided us came from the headlights of the car. We grew somewhat worried.

Several minutes later (or was it an eternity?), the passenger started telling us about his wonderful hotel. So that's the scam we realized. Not too bad. When we arrived at the hotel, it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. This can't be Thamel I thought! We saw some other travelers in the hallway and asked if we were in Thamel. Apparently, we had arrived.

In the end, we paid $3 each for the taxi and bed and everything turned out quite well. The next morning (today), we awakened to dogs barking and decided to go for a walk. We stepped out of the hotel and were careful to avoid the chickens and goat that walked by our feet. What a strange sensation! As we passed the bricklayers, running children and insane tuk tuk drivers, we began to feel at ease and understand the charm that is Katmandu. As it stands, we are loving life and elated at the thought of what awaits us.

Tomorrow, we take a bus out to the trail head of the Annapurna Circuit. I am not sure which towns along the way have power, let alone internet access. Assuming all goes well tomorrow, we expect to finish the trek between May 5 - 15 (or longer), depending on how many side-trips we do. If we find a connection along the way, you can count on hearing from me.

Otherwise, I will bid you farewell until I return. Nothing excites me more than the prospect of 3-4 weeks in the Himalayas. I promise to take many photos (both physical and mental) to share with you.

Take care and may Buddha bring you luck.

My Travel Book

I plan to post my travelogues from a trip around Southeast Asia back in the spring/summer of 2001 with my good friend from college, Steve. If this generates enough interest, it may inspire me to write a book. So please provide feedback and be honest!