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Archive for October, 2007

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Kathmandu and Pokhara

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

My trip itinerary was purposefully arranged to help me adjust to traveling in less developed countries and to practice traveling skills like using buses and getting around. Besides Fiji and Easter Island, which are very small and speak Engligh, I started out in developed nations. I then moved on to China which is sort of a midway nation. Traveling here is a bit more of a challenge due to the language barrier. English is probably spoken the least here of any regularly traveled Asian nation. Nepal is my first foray into a true developing nation. Outside of the Thamel tourist ghetto, Kathmandu lacks a lot of infrastructure. A lot of English is spoken here, though, so it’s fairly easy to get around despite the fact that many of the streets have no names in English or Nepali. Directions are neighborhood- and landmark-based. [read on]

Getting to Kathmandu

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

Getting to Kathmandu was fairly exhausting. One of first obstacles of the morning was the blackmarket moneychangers. There were about five of them between the hotel and the restaurant. In China you really don’t get a better rate on the blackmarket, but you can avoid the hassle of using the Bank of China which is exactly what you would expect a Communist Bank to be. Simple operations like changing money involves lots of paperwork, ID’s, and time. We told them we would change money to Nepali rupees after we ate breakfast and paid for the hotel room. The group of five still came into the restaurant with us, and we had to shoo them away. They randomly kept popping in to see if we had finished eating. Finally after eating, I traded my remaining yuan and some US dollars to rupees. (1USD = 64.5 Nepal rupees). After breakfast we hired a minivan to carry us to the Nepal border station which lay about 8 km down a switchbacking road from the Chinese station. Unfortunately we were soon engaged in the local pastime – the traffic jam. The Chinese border office was not yet open, and vehicles were already lined up to get across. Our driver informed us that we should just go stand in line at the border as we would have to go through seperately from the vehicle anyway. We decided to trust this man with our bags as we had hired him through the hotel, and he really couldn’t go anywhere anyway due to the traffic snarl. [read on]

Traveling The Friendship Highway

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
I had one more adventure near Lhasa before heading out on the seven day trip to Nepal. On Wednesday morning Greg, Kera, and I, along with four other people, were shuttled by van to the Denchen valley. There I met ... [Continue reading this entry]