I am now back in Bangkok (which feels like home… strange). For the past month I have been in Nepal spending time in the Himalayas. Here are some notes on my trip:
We arrived at Kathmandu airport on Tuesday, March 29. The airport was a worn-down dust box. Guards stood around holding automatic firearms, employees begged for money after helping lift baggage onto a cart, and the line for immigration seemed to drag as slowly as it possibly could. Not a good first impression. We arrived later that day at our hotel in Thamel (a tourist area inside Kathmandu). The trip didn’t start out well. One easily gets a headache in Kathmandu from the incessant beeping of cars and motorbikes warning pedestrians of their whereabouts on the absurdly narrow roads. Dust seeps into every physical space possible, a nightmare for your lungs. By the second day I found myself clinging to a toilet, puking in the dark after unwisely eating a cold pizza from the local bakery. The symptoms of food poisoning lasted the next three days including a ten hour van ride across the winding road that leads to Pokhara. We stayed an extra day in Pokhara to allow my symptoms to subside before we started our trek.
The first day of the trek was fantastic. We left the dust, blaring horns, bad hygiene, and unsafe food in the city and replaced it with good exercise and gorgeous scenery. The trek was great for our physical well being--our party being in dire need of conditioning. The first day we walked for 8 hours and ascended about 1000 meters of steeps stairs. At the end of the day we were utterly exhausted. This was the first of many physically taxing days. We spend our nights in tea houses. The tea houses were great, they include a room with a light, food available for order (we got used to eating primarily potatoes and eggs), and even a hot shower. Far from roughing it, we enjoyed each others company, read, played cards, washed clothes, and made friends from all over the world. I feel closer to every one of my family members thanks to these wonderful places.
Eventually, after over a week of grueling effort, we made it to our destination: Annapurna Base Camp! I immediately found a cozy place to sit high above the moraine where I watched Annapurna 1 for over an hour. Here, I experienced relaxation beyond anything I had ever felt before. I sat listening to the ambient noise. Just in front of me I could hear the occasional sound of a rock tumbling down the cliff. High above me I watched the slow, hypnotic movement of avalanches thundering down the mountain. I was reminded of nature’s subtle power. Mel and I read a chapter of the Book of Mormon together. Sitting Indian-style on a patch of grass I watched birds playing in the strong winds rushing up the cliff. Their grace translated to my peace. To me, that spot is sacred ground.
We stayed a couple days at the top and then slowly descended back down to Pokhara, ending our two week trek. We then spend another week in Pokhara and Kathmandu where I found that if you don’t eat cold pizza you can find delicious food that is inexpensive. I now sit here in Bangkok feeling utterly refreshed. What a great get-away!