LAST SUPPER IN KATMANDU

If you just go with the flow, no matter what weird things happen along the way, you always end up exactly where you belong.   —Tom Upton

1 Hard Yak 7028

FIRST, YOU HAVE TO GET THERE. MY DRUK AIR FLIGHT was supposed to leave Bhutan at 0900 hours, but they cancelled the day before and gave no reason. Lotay and Fin warned me this might happen. And it happens more times than you might imagine in a country with a king who hits the bulls eye with a bamboo bow from a football field and a half away, with airlines owning a monopoly on flights, where the former king supported four wives (all four sisters), and where nobody panders to backpackers. Continue reading

HOW TO WRITE A LOVE LETTER TO YOURSELF

1 SUNRISE E2SM 5886

Still Life with Cranes: Sunrise in Abu Dhabi fog

I WAS WRONG, AGAIN, OF COURSE. I thought my most-recent adventure/ extravaganza to the Maldives and the coast of Kerala would be my last journey in which I would not need to consider the cost of things: like $42 hamburgers or houseboat rentals. Turns out, I will soon be embarking on a trip to Burma (OK, Myanmar), Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. Ahem…you may have noticed my kinky little widget to the right displaying a countdown of days till departure.

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7 SHADES OF DISAPPOINTMENT IN A RAINBOW: Katmandu in better times

Lei vendor -- with all the colors of the rainbow

Lei vendor — with all the colors of the rainbow

WHEN MY AIRBUS A330 LANDS IN KATMANDU’S Tribhuvan International Airport, my heart leaps with what might be called sheer excitement. Joy. Satisfaction. Wonder. Anticipation. As though this were my first journey anywhere. I have been waiting to visit Katmandu for years. And ten years earlier, I had actually been on my way and traveled half-way here, but I got side tracked in Thailand by a dubious and eclectic group of new-found friends, by a beach and a house with a view any gypsy would be proud to call home for a while, by a spiritual entity with a leaning toward sensuality, and by some pretty-heavy-duty Thai flowers. None of us smoked and certainly would never have inhaled; we just liked looking at the dried flowers and the ingenious way the Thais bundled the stuff with sticks—Asian capitalist marketing at its finest. Continue reading

3 Big Pieces of Rock

DP Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature

Machhapuchchhre (fish tail) Mountain, Pokara, Nepal

Machhapuchchhre (fish tail) Mountain, Pokhara, Nepal

Machhapuchchhre. Say that three times real fast. I’m very, very disenchanted by the forces of nature this week, especially the shifting of tectonic plates in the Himalayas that demolished numerous ancient World Heritage site buildings in Nepal, and burying hundreds of people under the rubble.

It’s one thing when one human does something unnatural to another human—plunder, assault, molest. You shake your head and say…wth, why can’t we all just get along? But when nature does its thing–earth quake, typhoon, volcano eruption, tsunami—all you can do is sit there with your fingertips in your mouth and gape at how picayune a force we humans really are in the realm of all things on the planet. Continue reading

MONOCHROME MADNESS: Girl in an antique FRAME

Nepal girl-window SEPIA2 SM2

When someone says “Katmandu,” an exotic chime resonates in my mind—right up there with Timbuktu, Abu Dhabi, Tasmania. I would like to be as positive as I can when writing about traveling the world, and there are many great words you can write to describe Katmandu. These are not two of those words: “clean air.” Perhaps the most-used series of words are “wear a mask over your mouth and nose” and “pollution.” Because Katmandu lies in a valley surrounded by very high mountains—the highest in the world—the smog has nowhere to go, so it simply hovers over the city as a thick brew of toxic soup.

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