Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Back in the USA

After a long plane ride back to the United States from Delhi, many of us have concluded our trip and are back home. Several did stay in India to pursue side trips including Cathi, Jeannette, Patrick, Anita, and Manjeet.

If you have been following SPOT, the last GPS record was in Chitwan and did not get updated for the last days at Kathmandu and Delhi.

This years trip was a huge success and will remain in our memories for years to come. Nepal has a lot of interesting history, culture, and extraordinary vistas. Visiting our friend Scott at Base Camp and wishing him luck on this year's summit attempt was certainly a major highlight. For our friends and families, what now remains are for us to share our detailed personal accounts and picture collections.

I hope you enjoyed this Blog.



Chitwan Adventures

Chitwan was a really interesting place to visit! A smaller group including Manjeet, CJ, Erin, James, Jake, and Christi were transported by van to Chitwan soon after arriving to the Kathmandu Airport from Lukla for an overnight stay. The agenda included watching the sunset over the forested park and nearby river that marks the northern boundary, viewing a program that illustrated the historical culture of the local Tharu cast through song and dance, riding elephants through the Chitwan to visit one of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros, and finally swimming with the elephants in the river.

Chitwan is connected by a national two-lane highway through mountains and foothills with little to no shoulder between Kathmandu and Bharatpur. The highway was often lined with small shacks offering food along the way. The van ride was very interesting, especially in observing the traffic "guidelines". Trucks transporting goods made up most of the traffic, which was complicated by unpredictable stops or breaks by the truck drivers on the highway with little room available to pass. As we neared Chitwan, we had transitioned from monster foot hills to rolling hills and flatland.

The Chitwan region is populated by the Tharu cast of people which are generally known as farmers. This was evident as the region was more flat and accommodating to farming. Popular crops included rice, maze, potatoe, wheat/barley, and cabbage.

In the morning of the next day, we embarked on a tour through a portion of the Chitwan on elephants. These creatures could trail blaze through the heaviest of brush if needed, and were very quiet which afforded many good views of animals. Animals sighted include Peacocks, Sambar Deer, Chital Deer, Wild Boar (including a family of young boar), the Great One-horned Rhinoceros, and Rhesus Monkey.

At the conclusion of the safari, we accompanied the elephants to the shoreline of the river and swam with them. This was a popular event, and the elephant drivers had fun with it. As we rode the elephants, they took us right into the water. At a command, the elephants proceeded to splash us with the water using their trunks, then shaked us off until we all fell into the water. All part of the show. After several occasions of attempting to remain on the elephant for more then 8 seconds (re: bull riding), the elephants layed down in the water for a stone massage.

Chitwan was very different from the trekking experience, and it was a good conclusion to the trip.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Back in Kathmandu...at least most of us are...

So, although some of our group took a short side trip to the Royal Chitwan National Park, most of us are now back in Kathmandu after a final day of trekking from Namche to Lukla. That Namche hill didn't seem as bad coming down as it did going up! We had a long day but the satisfaction of a successful trip to Everest base camp and the high fives we got from our guides, CJ and fellow trekkers made that last climb into Lukla worth every step.

We had a very nice celebratory dinner at the Lukla tea house which turned into a fun evening of singing, dancing and a punishing game of "chubby bunny". Congratulations to Court for taking the top prize, although Erin exhibited great skill and was a worthy competitor. We had to use those 'smores marshmallows somehow! I'm still wondering where the chocolate and graham crackers are though. Hmmm...

Now that we're back in Kathmandu, some of us are resting while others are exploring the twisting, narrow streets of the Thamel tourist district. It seems as if the trip insurance we purchased may be more useful here than in the hills of the Himalayas, considering the fact that we're constantly dodging tuk tuks, bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, taxis, tourist buses and the infamous tiger balm sellers who are constantly trying to push the stuff off on everyone. I cannot figure out why it's so popular here. Despite the busy days, the district seems to really come alive at night. You can hear music coming from every direction as the live bands at the different bars compete with one another to attract all the people walking along the crowded streets.

Tomorrow, most of the group will head back to the United States and our trip will officially come to an end. For me, it was the experience of a lifetime and I'm so happy that I was able to enjoy it with such a good group of people. Thank you to everyone who made it possible. We couldn't have done it without you!