Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Hi. So I'm thinking of starting a new blog. I'm back in the States and the title of this one seems wrong now.
I'm sorry I've been gone. My family emergency turned into a tragedy and I've been working through that. Now I'm looking for work and taking pictures (in that order).
So once I figure out what my new blog will be called and what I'll write about, I'll let you know.
at 5:12 AM
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I forgot to mention, my prescription sunglasses are now at the bottom of the lake in Pokhara. Yep, I knocked them off my face three times and the third time I wasn't quick enough to catch them. Of course at the time we were in the middle and they sunk far faster than I would have anticipated. Not knowing how deep the lake is, but knowing it is the second largest lake in Nepal, I chose not to jump in after them. I'm hoping there is a large fish with an astigmatism that will enjoy sun free eyesight. Before you feel too bad for me, I've had those frames for about nine years, so it isn't like I didn't get a lot of use out of them. Also, I got them when I had an amazing perscription policy with my health insurance and I didn't pay for them -- I did pay for the latest lenses, but that was almost two yeas ago. So I have donated them to the water gods, I hope this means a shorter monsoon.
We failed to successfully rent bikes in Pokhara. All the bikes are made in China and India and well, frankly, seem to be built for midgets. Sabine is even taller than me, so finding a bike that fit her was difficult. We finally did find a place that had two bikes that would work and rode off only to find that I had a loose pedal and it couldn't be fixed (the screw was stripped and I couldn't get the nut back on). Frankly biking into the mountains with a pedal that could come off any minute didn't seem like a good idea (besides it was spinning weird). So we returned the bikes. We admit, we are a bit picky, what with out desire for working brakes (another issue at several shops) and pedals and in the end that pickiness hurt our chances. Side note, to rent a bike was, on average, 20 rupees an hour -- or thirty-three cents. Frankly I'd be willing to pay a bit more for a bike that works.
We went for a walk instead. We walked down to the dam side of town, which seems to be a bit wealthier than where we were staying, but still touristy. It was a nice walk though and we had ice cream because the day was terribly hot. We passed the Friendship Park where "your generous contribution is appreciated," for a temple they are building there. We also found where the "tourist zone" begins -- please don't honk your horns or play loud music and definitely wear a helmet when on your motorbike when traveling throughout the zone.
Now we are back in Kathmandu. Sabine leaves for Thailand tomorrow and then I have another week in Kathmandu. There are several more UNESCO sites to explore here, so I have stuff to keep me busy. I've made a reservation at an ashram in Rishikesh for 13 days when I return to India. I hope I can handle 13 days of yoga -- I'm a little concerned I might get a bit bored. I'm stocking up on books.
at 5:55 PM
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I'm in Pokhara. I found Sabine (it is a rather small town, despite being Nepal's second largest, so this wasn't a challenge) and we've been hanging out for the last two days. Upon arrival I was immediately accosted by taxi drivers. I stupidly believed them that the lakeside hotels were three kilometers away and got inside. I could easily have walked -- they definitely exaggerate the distance. So I won't be hiring one for my return to the bus stand when I leave on Tuesday. My driver didn't have change, so I went to the little shop across the street from the hotel I wanted to stay in and asked if they had change. They had the larger, small bills I needed, but not the small bills. So I gave him what I had, 120 instead of the agreed upon 130. He tried to argue, but I explained that I wasn't going to pay him more just because he refused to break a bill. This is his business if he is going to accost tourists when they arrive and then contrive great distances to get them in his cab, then he better make sure he has the change they will inevitably need. He left.
Pokhara is a lovely town on a beautiful lake. People basically come here to start their trek, but as the weather is really bad right now, most people here are just hanging out. Sabine ended her trek early (which is why we can hang out -- I had originally thought I'd just be here by myself) because it rained every day and she got sick. So see, it isn't so bad that I haven't been trekking yet.
Instead, we've been renting a boat to row to the other, cleaner, side of the lake to go swimming. It has been rather nice. We dock at a resort that is closed for monsoon season, so we have the place to ourselves. Well we did, but I guess now they are starting to clean the place to open, so there were people coming and going today. And then there are all the boats of men who row over to stare. But we are totally covered, so their efforts are really in vain.
The water is really nice. It is clear enough to see your feet and the sun warms it up to a pleasant temperature. The rain is mostly in the mountains and Pokhara sits in this little valley where it generally only rains at night.
Lakeside, where all the guesthouses are, is basically for tourists. This is where you find all the hippy clothes and internet cafes. Today, in the morning, we went into the proper town. There you find the Korean blankets, spices and herbs for any ailment, proper Nepalese hats for men, material shops for sarees and salwar kumeezes, etc. We wandered around with Sabine's trekking guide and then returned to Lakeside. We took the public bus both ways -- they fill the bus pretty full and then men sit on the top of the bus, but it is still not as crowded as in Sri Lanka. You pay the same fare whether you are seated, standing or on the roof.
Tomorrow we plan to rent bikes and ride out of town to see a bit of country side. Then we are heading back to Kathmandu.
The last few days have been very relaxing.
at 5:20 PM
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
First, I should probably explain the lack of photos. See, I take all my photos in RAW, which basically means that each photo is around 15 MB. To put them on Flickr I edit them and then degrade their quality. I need photoshop for that. So, you won't be seeing any pictures of my travels until I'm back in the States. Sorry, but I refuse to travel with my incredibly heavy laptop.
So I'm still in Kathmandu. I've been working. Well, Sunday I spent the day running errands: basically I ran around to every tour agency that advertises cheap flights and tried to find a cheap ticket back to Delhi. They don't exist. This monsoon deal I was told is clearly over or never existed. I'm taking the bus back. Yes, I realize this is foolish, but it is also 1/3 the cost. Actually, I'm not take "the bus;" I upgraded to an AC bus and 3rd-tier AC train. I've warned the travel agent that I've already been taken advantage of once and I won't stand for it again. If that bus isn't AC, he will see me in his office and I will demand a full refund. I have the number of the tourist police if I need it, though I honestly doubt that will do any good. Luckily, I'm quite good at making a scene when necessary. He has assured me that if there is a roadblock and they know about it before I board the bus, I will receive a refund. I am trying to believe that it isn't possible to be stuck in two, several-day road blocks. I've been told by many people that they are very rare (though the paper has been chronicling one in the east that has been going on for two days).
My little freelance job is almost over. I'm getting paid for a month, even though it has taken me about a week. That said, I have rewritten three websites for this guy, so I thnk he is getting a deal (I'm being paid local wages again). I just work fast. Oh yeah, that was my freelance gig, to rewrite his websites. So instead of trekking or seeing exciting temples, I'm inside writing about it. Funny.
I believe I'll finish today, but probably won't be paid until tomorrow. Then I'm thinking of heading over to Pokhara. Maybe I can find someone to trek with there, but if, not it is supposed to be an interesting town. If it clears up I might even be able to see some big mountains.
Sorry this update isn't very exciting, but I'm sitting in an office these days. That will be over soon and I'll get back to being interesting (or at least seeing interesting things).
at 12:23 PM