HK-CHINA-TIBET-NEPAL-INDIA
December 30, 2010, 6:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Okay, I’m going to skip waaay ahead now. I’ll need to skim through 4 months of territory, and it hurts to do so, but this catch up game is getting out of hand. I’ll give a quickish recap that brings us up to now, just some highlights via visuals.

After Kathmandu I head to China’s Sichuan Province via Hong Kong. I love that city, even in the height of summer. I spent a lot of time strolling the Kowloon promenade admiring the skyline:

I then head to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, where I began the next stage of Foundation work. After months of mostly clear mountain air and then the balmy but blue skies of Hong Kong, Chengdu was a shocker. Suddenly I had gone from the left to the right:

And it was the scene on the right that greeted me from my hotel room window on my first morning. Chengdu feels like it has been fastened with a gigantic gray ceiling. Smog and/or haze always looms. But the sweet people and slowish pace made me come to adore the city, as did the access to cheap, high quality massage.

The food has its charm too. I had my fill of incredibly hot hot pot. Chilli oil is brought to the boil to become a fondue for raw meats and veggies. The center chamber is for wimpy non-chilli lovers like me:

And I found out that the combo of hot pot and 100-proof rice wine commonly causes people to  jump up and dance around the dinner table (for hours). I’ll spare you the extensive video footage, but give you this action shot (just FYI, the napkin dance lady below is a semi-famous Tibetan pop singer):

I also discovered that in China, Lay’s Potato Chips come in Blueberry Flavor:

Roaming outside of Chengdu, I spent some time amongst Sichuan’s beloved Pandas:

Apparently, so did Don King:

And hung around with very large Tibetan men:

I ventured out to see my best friend’s family in an enchanted corner of eastern Tibet:

 

 

 

And I gifted them a dzomo (a cow/yak hybrid):

We milked her:

And churned her milk into butter:

I went back to Lhasa:

And was reunited with two very close friends I hadn’t seen in over 7 years:

The once tiny, rosy-cheeked children I had known have grown into beautiful young women. Both are now cell phone addicted and boy crazy but the rosy cheeks remain:

 

Moving closer to the present, I flew back over the southern edge of the Himalayas and made my maiden voyage to the Taj:

It was more magnificent than I had thought possible.

I then took a break with an adventure through Rajasthan (incredible, incredible place), but my eyes are glazing over at the task of deciding which photos to highlight so this will have to do it. I’m back to Asia shortly for the second segment of work with my lovely colleagues at the Foundation.

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And back to Kathmandu (1400M / 4593FT)
December 4, 2010, 8:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So by the end of June our huge kora had been completed: from Nepal up to Kailash and Guge, across to Lhasa and back down to Nepal. I then returned to Kathmandu where the trip had started. Though this time there was no hiking across the border–without my Kiwi companions I took the easy route with an early morning flight from Lhasa to Kathmandu. It’s an expensive fare but it’s fast and takes you right over Everest. I was too slow to reach my camera in time for that pivotal moment. Instead, here’s a watery expanse of the Plateau I captured somewhere 31,000 feet above sea level:

 

Reaching the Nepali capital, I again went straight to the home of my lovely friend Kats. My last night in Lhasa involved no sleep and a marathon of karaoke so my first hours back in KTM were spent sound asleep in her sunny guest room. I was finally roused by the smell of warm chocolate as Kats and her son finished baking a belated birthday cake for me. They did an incredible job. (Devouring three cakes in a week really raises the bar for birthdays of the future).

Then I think I may have actually gone back to sleep. This time I’ll co-blame it on a sudden overdose of oxygen after being above 12,000+ feet for the past seven weeks. Kathmandu seems like it would be a high place–it kind of evokes that image with all its enchanted Himalayan kingdom associations–but it’s actually more or less the same height as Denver. (Now that kind of kicks the mystical frills right out of it). Also let it be known that a sudden decrease in elevation and the resulting increase in oxygen does not necessarily give you a surge of super-human strength or energy (as I have also assumed), it often just works to make you feel nothing but sleepy. 

Anyway, during my actual waking hours I readied myself to start my new position and explored some old favorite spots with Kats. We had a gorgeous afternoon in the ancient city of Patan where we strolled around a museum of art and drank lime soda overlooking the city’s royal courtyards and temples.

And onto Hong Kong!