Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar is one of the biggest towns in the Khumbu region where most trekkers stop for a couple of days to acclimatize, and where members of mountaineering expeditions can do some last-minute shopping.

It is amazing what’s being offered in Namche Bazaar considering Continue…

Flying In

View of the Himalayas on the Way to Lukla

There are two places from where to start the Everest trek, either from Jiri or from Lukla. To start from Jiri would have required an additional 8 days of walking through Maoist territory before reaching the Khumbu region. Hoping to avoid more Maoist encounters and wanting to focus our time in the mountains, we opted to begin our trek in Lukla, which required a 30-minute flight from Kathmandu.

The flight was an adventure in itself. Continue…

Trekking in the Everest Region

Map of Everest Region

Well, we’re off on our next trek to the Khumbu, the Nepali Everest region. We’ll be heading into pure mountain territory this time with the Who’s Who of Himalayan peaks including Everest, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Makalu, Nuptse, Pumori, and the spectacular Ama Dablam.

Unlike the Annapurna Circuit, Khumbu trekking isn’t organized into a nice circle. Instead, the region contains a series of mountainous valleys leading to viewpoints over the various peaks. Trekking in the Khumbu is serious stuff, many of the viewpoints approach 5500 meters (18,150 ft). That’s high, but still not quite as high as our jaunt to Mt. Kailash. Although we won’t be setting any new height records for ourselves, we are seriously looking forward to hiking the heart of the Himalayas! Maybe we’ll even see the yeti!!!

Henna for your Hands

Young Nepali Applying Henna Paste

Henna art, also called Mehndi, is a traditional art of painting a woman’s hands or feet mostly for special occasions such as weddings or festivals. We’ve seen beautiful examples of this art form in many parts of the world from Sudan to Nepal – we’ve even known western travelers who’ve financed their travels by learning the art and painting hands themselves.

Pashupatinath

Woman Covered in Flowers at the Bagmati River

Pashupatinath is Nepal’s most important Hindu temple located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Although non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the main hall, the temple complex is still worth a visit mainly to witness the ongoing cremations right in front of the temple. It may seem disrespectful or even disturbing to go watch such a personal event but Continue…

Certificated Tapeworm Free

Am I getting too sensitive in my old age or is it rather disturbing to look down at your menu and see the line “these meals are made with certificated tapeworm-free pork?” I know it’s supposed to reassure me, but somehow it just drew my attention to the grotesque possibilities here on the Subcontinent.

The menu also assured us that they use “fresh chicken immediately deep frozen.” You would think that that would ensure a hygenically sound meal – but, alas, as we were finishing our meal, new arrivals were told to go find a new restaurant because the cook was SICK!

Bodhnath

Bodhnath

Bodhnath, location of one of the world’s largest and most spectacular stupas, is home to Nepal’s sizable community of Tibetan refugees. Here, unlike China, you can bear witness to active Tibetan Buddhism WITH Dalai Lama portraits plastered to everything that doesn’t move. Young Tibetans sell “Free Tibet” T-shirts, and Buddhism rules.

Bodhnath is best in the evening when the whole community comes out to do the kora around the stupa. Young and old circle the massive structure spinning prayer wheels and chanting as they go – anything for a few extra karmic points! This is my favorite place in Kathmandu.

Around Thamel

Street in Thamel

Back from trekking the Annapurna Circuit, we are staying in Thamel, the tourist ghetto of Kathmandu. It is a crowded and noisy place stuffed with restaurants, German bakeries, dance clubs, book stores, tourist shops and tour operators. Walking through the narrow streets, one is sure to get constantly Continue…