Alright, our time of slacking has come to an end as we continued being the good tourists we are. Jiajia is still recovering but the main motivation is we booked our trek to the Annupurna Circuit. Annapura is another 8000m tall mountain, but it is nearly impossible to climb with a fatality rate of over 40%…. we’re trekking around the mountain ranges, and this trek is rated as one of the best all around treks for its vast scenery!
Hankering for some Chinese food, we went back to the same place for lunch before heading to Pashupatinath, one of the most sacred Hindi temples in the Kathmandu Valley. No foreigners were allowed in the temple, but the surrounding areas were just as interesting. Situated on the sacred river of Bagmati, the temple is a shrine to Shiva where a sacred lingam resides in the temple. Walking into the temple, an overwhelming smoke smothers the area (more on this later). Photogenic sadhus sit around, welcoming anyone to come for a picture, but for a small donation of course. Sadhus sit there from morning til dark, contemplating the deep spirituality of the world and legally smoking pot to help them relief pain and to aid in meditation. No comment…..
Since the main temple was banned for us foreigners, we can only stroll around the riverside and take in the interesting history, lingam temples and architecture that lays here, in addition to the dead bodies. Continue reading
Today is a good tourist day.
Kathmandu is really small, and almost everything is within walking distance. That being said, our walking distance has now extended to anything within 5km. It’s just nicer to take a walk through local neighbourhoods and see what they look gives us a better pulse on the city.
Walking from our hotel to Swayambunath, aka Monkey Temple, we got a feel for the city and we aren’t too keen of what we see. Going westward from the tourist district the city does not get any more inspiring, with the continuation of the 70s looking stores (sewing machines, old car parts, craggy paint but no North Fake gear). Crossing over a bridge and over a river, we see an unpleasant stream of water full of garbage, and pigs floundering at the shores. Eagles (or falcons?) soar around the river, occasionally dipping down for a drink or catching flies, we aren’t sure. Continue reading
We’re not very good tourists.
Waking up, we had breakfast in the cozy hotel courtyard and then began our day searching for a suitable trekking company to provide us with a porter for our 2-week hike through the Annapurna circuit. The number of travel agencies in Thamel was told to us to hover around 400. That pretty much means when you walk through Thamel, for every 5 stores there are 2 fake North Face stores, 2 travel agencies and one random store…. it’s ridiculously overwhelming.
Hiring a porter isn’t as easy as it sounds, because you don’t want to be stuck hiking for 17days with some guy you don’t like. Prices also varied from a quoted $12/day to $50/day!!! W T F? After meeting all kinds of different people, the uncle of a fake North Face shop owner, a pro-salesman who wouldn’t let us meet the porter, a crazy outdoor junkie who sits on the Nepal rescue team board and was busy with the aftermath of a guide who died on a peak, and finally we settled with this guy whom we ignored twice on the street until the third time… Continue reading
Due to the strange time zone we’re in, the sun rises extremely early at 5ish, but also sets around 4pm. This sort of explains why people wake early and also sleep rather early. Waking up, Jiajia felt better after a 15hr nap, so we attempted to grab some food at a local cafe. After Jiajia ate a half piece of toast, we started walking around the area of Thamel where most tourists are located. Running some random errands, we got a pay as you go prepaid SIM card for a staggering 50Rs, which was about $0.60USD!!! The more we travel, the more we realize how ridiculously priced North American mobile fees are! Another cool part, is that there is a lot of good stuff on television. They have movie channels showing decent movies around the clock (good for burning time in the hotel), and at night Discovery and Animal Planet shows make a perfect companion to falling asleep…
Jiajia was still unable to eat, so we wanted to get some fruits. In Thamel, the fruit-stand to North Face shop ratio is about 1:22, so after a 20min walk I managed to hunt down a fruit stand… WTF people don’t eat fruits? The bananas helped the upset stomach, so later in the afternoon, we finally headed out to see what Kathmandu was all about. Continue reading
As I was desperately trying to update my backdated the blog late into the night, I barely got a couple hours sleep when waking up at 6am. Problem was, Jiajia got 0 hours of sleep as she was suffering from a bout of food poisoning, which I was just recovering from but hers seemed to deteriorate….more on this later.
Catching a flight in the new Kunming International Airport which opened June of this year, it was a pretty cool sight as you drove up towards the simple lines of the massive building (which, I just discovered, is designed by a rather famous firm whose also doing 1 WTC…$). Again, as with most 2nd/3rd tier Chinese cities, there’s some ridiculously optimistic infrastructure investment that looks nice and modern, but when you’re inside the building looks severely underused with barely anybody…. Continue reading
Spent the morning killing mosquitoes. They all left a large splatter of blood, not sure how many of them french kissed my lower lip….
Then headed to the local Wal-Mart for some last minute supplies before leaving China.
Nothing much to see in Kunming, but still tried to visit a museum at 4pm, but apparently they were already closed. People in Yunnan really don’t work too hard. So we didn’t bother looking too hard either.
Tomorrow, we fly to Kathmandu at 9:30am! Excited!!!
Time to pack up and head to Kunming. Our arbitrary streak of staying 2-days in any Yunnan city has gone very well, but we need to get to Kunming as our flight to Nepal departs from there.
Before leaving we wanted to grab lunch at the HK restaurant, but on our way we saw the owner walking her dog and telling us they don’t open for another hour….so we looked to the next best thing…. the dessert place. Haha, to our surprise the dessert place was open at 10:30am! And once again, this place reinforced our idea of serving possibly the best desserts we’ve had. Yummmmm. Then we had a bowl of noodles before hopping on the bus out, what a great breakfast =P
So for the rest of the day, we sat on a bus from noon til 730 and arrived in Kunming. Checking into our hostel, we headed to dinner with a family friend.
Back at the hostel, I was furiously pumping our posts for our blog so we can wrap it all up before leaving China. Problem was, like the night before in Shuanglang, I was dogged by some darned mosquitoes. Last night, I was bite on the nose. Today, I was bite on the lower lip! Seriously, these are some weird places for mosquito bites… w t f.
Waking up, we decided to find some good eats online, but downtown Shuanglang is about the size of a Walmart (maybe even smaller) so we didn’t have much alternatives to begin with. That being said, the average quality of food is very high. For lunch, we had this supposed French restaurant, but upon arrival we found that it served pizzas and pastas, while the table next to us were drinking Jack Daniels…and when the food came we felt totally gypped. Continue reading