09.12.13

Off to the Boonies

Posted in Travel at 1:04 pm by Administrator

I’ve been radio silent because we’ve been on a frenzied dash to buy all the crap ( another technical trekking term) to head out to the weeds. Tomorrow we go, and when and if we see a WiFi signal before our return is a subject of much speculation. Today there is a general strike in Kathmandu so we had to contend with closed shops on strangely empty streets – so recently the locus of such mayhem.

Yesterday, we found ourselves in the maelstrom of a Ganesh ( the elephant god – remover of obstacles) festival which involved women and girls dressed in fine blood-red Sarees as some sort of tribute (or perhaps rebuke) to their husbands. We were swept up into a fulminating sea of humanity pushing along into a narrow pathway by Durbar Square and under a 4 foot high tunnel with the doors to restaurants branching off into the darkness. The weirdness, we-aren’t in Kansas Toto factor was cranked to 11.

This burgh is off-the-scale cool, put it on the bucket list stat!

Hopefully, more soon.

Fred

09.10.13

We’re in K k k k k Kathmandu

Posted in Travel at 4:18 am by Administrator

We’re in k k k k k Kathmandu
Kathmandu Nepal, nirvana Hotel, Sept 10, 2013

Yesterday we landed in Kathmandu. It was partly cloudy and hot. The 3rd World Hustle started right away. A porter hefted our luggage onto a cart and rolled us out. HE was searched on the way out as we were waved through with a smile! This porter wanted $10 US to roll the bags 50 feet! I gave him $2. We found our guy with a sign with our names – he took us to the van. He too wanted $10, I gave him $2. The cabbies mobbed us, not taking “no” for an answer. We escaped in a Munchkinville tiny white beat up van. What followed was a long dirt road, pot holed, bouncing ride past Indiana Jones quality crowds. There were cows in the street, construction by hand, rubble, children, families on mopeds, bicycles groaning with goods, women of all ages with umbrellas against the sun in cheerfully bright Salvar Kameez, brown skinned beautiful calmly about their business in the noisy chaos.

After the clutter, constant honking, death defying right hand drive traffic in narrow pedestrian crammed “streets” (really alley sized) the Hotel Nirvana was an oasis of cool tranquility with a smiling clerk who promptly installed us in a charming, if a bit ramshackle room. There was a balcony overlooking a large calming garden.

More later,

Fred

09.09.13

Temple to Duty Free

Posted in Travel at 1:13 pm by Administrator

Bangkok’s Temple to Duty Free

Emerging from a Thai Airline’s 777-200 like weasels fleeing a flooded den, we emerged blinking, insensate, with only one goal defined with flawless diamond clarity – find “Louis’ Tavern Dayrooms Hotel” and lapse into a death-like fatigue coma. We had been brutally whipsawed by time such that neither my irritable wife or I were even sure what the date was. Having crossed the International Date Line, today became tomorrow, I think, and yesterday became what was once obviously today. Jet lag and trying to sleep curled up on three seats with a seatbelt anchor jabbing me in the kidneys did nothing to facilitate my understanding of the current time save that it was definitely night outside.

Bangkok’s Airport is of a size that brings to mind North Korean synchronized pagents to the Dear Leader plazas, it has literally miles of identical shopping mall meets Blade Runner blindingly lit hallways. Where O where to find our day room oasis and collapse? Nothing to do but head for the attractive young ladies in severe tightly bunned hair styles and uniforms under the big question mark sign.

The differences between the Thai Language and English is a vast gulf. The first booth lady seemed to think we needed to go to Concourse C but she might have said D or E or even G. With her accent I couldn’t be sure, and it was clear from her helpless non-sequester responses that she didn’t really understand us either. Ever resourceful, we marched in the direction she had been waving resolved to interrogate each information booth lady we encountered and average out the results. How could that fail? The initial results were promising, with two consecutive info ladies waving us in the same direction. But at the third booth we hit a snag and the lady insisted we had to go back the way we came! I began to sweat heavily. Dutifully we retraced the quarter mile back through the throngs of bag rolling travelers and glittering Duty Free shops to info lady number two. She, as expected, waved us back the way we had retraced. In desperation we tried to find the hotel phone number but there was a “free WiFi” procedure we needed to follow which in our fatigue was at the boundaries of our mental abilities. After 15 infuriating minutes I got the WiFi up and running only to discover the response time was in the 300 baud dial up range. My sweaty foul clothing felt like it was going to disintegrate off my unwashed carcass. Info lady two called the hotel and again after a rapid-fire Thai consult reiterated that we had to go back. “through security”.

Staggered to my knees with fatigue about ready to stroke out with piss off I told info lady 2 that I had been lead to believe that the day hotel was INSIDE the secure zone. To make a long story tedious this confusion resulted from the fact that we did NOT have to clear customs and enter the Kingdom, but inexplicably we DID have to go through a security checkpoint, just because.

To my extreme annoyance the security checkpoint was directly behind info lady number THREE whom you recall had us (unnecessarily) go back to info lady TWO.

Feeling like hammered shit and looking worse we staggered into the day room hotel. Fortunately it was worth the trouble to find the place. Instead of trying to nod out on seats in a glorified shopping mall we instead showered, brushed our teeth, plugged in our depleted electronic devices and slipped between clean sheets for 5 hours of comfy oblivion. I awoke refreshed and as an added bonus had a nice Contental Breakfast which bucked me up so I could worship at the Temple of Duty Free Shopping which is the Bangkok Airport.

As I write this we are spiraling down in a widening gyre to the Kathmandu Valley and I can see Mt. Everest so I will sign off for now.

Fred

09.07.13

Aggregation of my fecal material

Posted in Travel at 7:08 pm by Administrator

We hugged everyone good-bye and got a lift from Richie to SFO. Isn’t that the airline that just crashed here? Why, yes, it is! Disrobe for security, get X-rayed, prodded, poked, and eye-balled by TSA. Grab a bite to eat while CNN rolls appalling video of nerve gas victims over and over. Try to keep lunch down. Cruise the Duty Free and book stores. Get stuffed into a tube and sit for 12 hours. Emerge in Korea. Wait 5 hours. Get crammed into another cylinder for 6 hours. Emerge in Bangkok. Wait 10 hours. Get into yet another plane and sit for 3 hours. Emerge in Kathmandu. That’s all you gotta do and you’re there!

And yes, we are singing ” We’re going to Kathmandu, we’re really really going to, we’re going to Kathmandu” . . . Repeat as needed.

Later,

Fred

09.04.13

Ass Kicking Contest

Posted in Travel at 1:48 am by Administrator

Ass Kicking Contest – Off to Nepal

I am the proverbial one-legged man in the ass kicking contest! Getting ready to travel overseas involves a shitload (that’s a technical term we travelers use) of organization. But nooooo, my life is more complicated. There is construction going on at the house, we have friends staying at the house because their attempt to move to North Carolina has gone sideways and they have no furniture, and we have friends from Montreal coming to stay with a 9 month old baby!

Not content with this, I decided to get an iPad Mini (upon which I type at this moment) to take with me to Nepal. It’s light, I can read e-books, I can do my e-mail and besides I just wanted one. But, the new device requires some significant effort to setup, with apps to download, e-mail to test, blog entries to test, and so forth. I confess, some naughty words were uttered as I struggled through this.

Anyhow, I’ve got a pile of gear ready to go and soon we’ll pile into a United Airlines (shudder) aircraft and turn our lives over to their tender mercies for 36 hours. I’d rather poke my eardrums out with a rusty knitting needle – but I digress.

Stay tuned to find out what happens next.

Fred