Thursday, December 10, 2015

Last Days in Kathmandu

We arrived back in Kathmandu Saturday afternoon November 7th.  For our last few days we had splurged and booked a suite at the Hotel Tibet International. We had a big and comfortable room at the rear of the hotel, so nice and quiet. Since we arrived in the afternoon we decided to just hang out in the hotel, relax and have a massage.

The next day we met Urgen and walked to his house, which was only 20 minutes away. We spent several hours at his house and had the pleasure of meeting his wife and daughter Tsering. After obtaining her bachelor's and master's degrees in America Tsering had returned to Nepal to help develop the country for future generations. She is an amazing young lady and very sweet and smart. She helps train leadership and business development skills to public officials and entrepreneurs. Check out their Web site:  Tshering cooked a fabulous Nepali lunch for us and after lunch Urgen took us to the local shops for some shopping. It was very helpful to have him come with us since he could help negotiate the price, and also knew the best places to take us. 

After shopping we met up with Tsering and the four of us went to a place where she used to volunteer. It was a home for young homeless boys who had become addicted to the euphoria of glue sniffing. The owner of the organization provided them a place to stay and helped them break their addiction and get a new start in life, he was obviously a wonderful compassionate person. It was a joy to meet him and some of the boys who lived there.

When we got back to the hotel we went across the street to the prayer flag shop. Since we were buying from the shop that actually makes the flags the cost was great so we ended up buying enough for about 4 or 5 years. We like to have a strand of prayer flags which we string across our back yard and we also added a new flag set that runs vertically up a pole which we now have installed in our back yard. Buddhist prayer flags are brightly colored - the first time we put some up in our backyard many years ago one of our neighbors saw them and asked us if we were having a party!

The next day we wanted to go to Swayambhunath which is referred to as the monkey temple since of course there are a lot of monkeys living there! We had been there 20 years ago and wanted to see it again, so we found a taxi driver who still had fuel (remember the fuel shortage) and he took us over there. On the way we stopped at another stupa that looked like a smaller version of Boudhanath. Boudhanath is a very large well known stupa not too far from our hotel, unfortunately it was damaged in the earthquake and was being repaired. After our visits to the stupas we had lunch and started the process of packing our bags since we had to be ready to go early in the morning and start the journey home.

Urgen picked us up the next morning and took us to the airport. It was sad to say good bye to Urgen. We had really bonded with him since we spent the entire time with him in the Khumbu. Hopefully we will see him again either in Nepal or when he comes to Maine every summer. We had an easy flight to New Delhi and Sara made the smart decision to get a hotel right inside the airport. The hotel was perfect, we had already cleared security and it was close to our gate so it was very comfortable and convenient. We had to get up at 2 AM to catch our flight to London. Once again, Sara who I am sure was a tour director in another life, managed to get us in first class on the night flight to London. The British Airways flight was a new 787 Dreamliner. It was awesome, the service was very good with great food and the flight attendants even made our beds for us so we could get some sleep.

When we arrived in London we had a fairly short layover and hung out in the lounge which was right next to our gate. Comfortable chairs, free Wi-Fi, and free food and drinks- not bad. The British Airways flight back was business class and we were in the section which was the humpback bubble on the top of the plane, we’d never been in the top section before which was fun. This trip was the best use of airlines miles ever!  We managed to lie down and get some more sleep, but with 20 hours of flying were very keen to get home. 

Since we are back home now and have had time to reflect on this trip there have been a number of times I’ve said to Sara "I can't believe we pulled this trip off ".  It was long and a hard five weeks. Many many miles of walking and hiking. I am not sure I would try anything as ambitious again but we did it and it was fabulous! Every time we go on a trip like this we always say it was the trip of a lifetime but of course I think we say that about all our trips. What's next? Haines Alaska for the eagle festival next November, then Santorini the Greek island and maybe Iceland has our attention for the future. Who knows what adventure awaits.