Oriental, North Carolina…I have time, I can travel

Although we are home from our winter in Thailand, I am still retired.  Being open and available to opportunities that present themselves is key to a successful retirement.

Jeanne

I met Jeanne in Thailand when she moved into our building for a month.  I admired her nerve and her interest in the world.  She had already been travelling alone for 2 months throughout SE Asia, as a single at times, as part of a booked group at other times.  Being 67 did not deter her from walking 5 or 6 km every day or tasting all the street food.

She was quick to join into a group of regulars who had happy hour every afternoon in our yard.  She talked to everyone and listened for the best places to tour, to eat and shop for fresh fruit.  Her energy was infectious. I got to know her when her phone was so full of pictures that the red bar couldn’t be ignored for another day.  I helped her download them to her computer and set up a Google Photo album.  Her blog site needed a little help too.

Oriental, North Carolina

Before she left for Malaysia, her last stop before returning home to North Carolina, she told me about her “girl’s retreat”.  Every year she has access to a large guesthouse in her hometown of Oriental.  She invites people that she connected with in her travels abroad and her life at home, women that made a positive impression on her.  When I received my email invitation in March, I was ecstatic!

I decided that I had time and AirMiles so booked a flight from Calgary, through Toronto to Raleigh, North Carolina.  A rental car and 3 hours got me to Oriental on Sunday evening, May 7.

Stallings House

The Stallings House, where we stayed, was built in 1890 and sits on a large lot facing the 3 mile wide Neuce River.  It has 5 bedrooms on 2 levels and an open third level with several beds.  A sitting room, large dining room, kitchen and several bathrooms fill the rest of the house.  There are 2 wrap-around verandas overlooking the river.  This old home is often rented for weddings or large family gatherings.  Jeanne did quite a lot of work on the house and bartered the use of this great accommodation for a week every year.

 

The Retreat May 8-11

There were 16 people stayed in the house.  I was from the farthest away.  There were 2 women from New York State that Jeanne had met in Viet Nam this winter.  There were 4 women from western NC who had travelled with her to China in 1982.  Another woman from Atlanta met her in Australia on another trip.  Jeanne’s cousin and a friend arrived from northern NC and another woman arrived from Florida. There were more but too many stories to keep straight.

There were about 25-30 local women who came and went through the week.

Things to Do

We spent the week doing a variety of activities that were mainly planned by the people who attended.

  • The town mayor/bank manager, Sally, used to visit the house as a girl and shared her stories with us from a book she is writing about her life in Oriental.

Sally’s stories

  • Flora, a 70 year old who won the over 60 North Carolina beauty contest demonstrated her incredible skills as a belly dancer

  • pedicures, facials and massages were also done on the lawn by the river

  • boat trips along the rivers and creeks in the area provided beautiful views and more history on the area and its connection to fishing and sailing
  • Miss Faye, who is a 94 years old, teaches several exercise classes a week.  She spoke on why the same streets have different names in Oriental.  She allowed us to visit her yard where she feeds about 40 turtles dog food every night in a creek behind her house.  They come when she calls.  She is also a Senior Olympian and Humanacare Game Changer. Check out the link about her and her daughter.
  • Pat brought driftwood, paint and wine to spend the afternoon deciding what we saw in our wood and bring it to life with colour.  Most women got right after it with excitement, even before they had their wine.  It surprised me the number who were very uncomfortable with this creative activity.  Their elementary art teachers must not have been very supportive.  Now that I’m in my 50’s I don’t really care anymore what others think of my creative projects.
  • Cheryl took a small group of us who live outside the state on a boat trip to Cape Lookout.  We travelled through the inland waterway, past Shakleford Banks to the lighthouse at Cape Lookout.  There were wild horses, dolphins and an enormous sea turtle along the way.  Many fishermen were fishing in small boats and there were several shrimp boats with the large booms holding the nets out to the side. We were gone all day.

Things to Eat

  • Finola and her husband, originally from Ireland served us high tea on proper china with cucumber sandwiches and scones with cream and jam.
  • Miss Lilly, who was on a cooking show, “Chef and the Farmer” spent the day with us teaching us how to make proper biscuits.  She used lard, buttermilk and self-rising flour.  The lard and buttermilk went into a well inside the flour and was squished together until it was “silky”.  Then it was swirled in the bowl until it incorporated enough flour to make a ball.  The biscuits were squeezed off the ball, flattened in the hand and the edges rolled under.  The baking sheet was filled and then baked.  I’ve never seen any technique like that before.  The results were delicious, especially with some local honey brought by a woman in the group.
  • We visited Georgie’s crab shedding operation.  When crabs get too big for their shells, they molt their shell and purge all their digestive tract and lungs.  Within 2 hours they start to grow new shells and organs.  If they are taken out of the water and put into the fridge, they can’t grow a new shell.  The upper skin is removed with scissors and you are left with a crab that is only meat.  Georgie came to the house one evening and dredged the crabs in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and deep fried them.  Eating outside on the lawn by the river at long tables made the food taste great.  The crabs, though, would be delicious no matter where you ate them.
  • Carol made chef salad for everyone’s lunch one day. This is Laura eating the salad.  Carol is enjoying the pedicure.

Food of North Carolina

Other things I ate for the first time

  • pimento cheese dip and sandwiches.  Everyone in North Carolina seemed to have their own special recipe, but the general ingredients are grated cheddar/monterey jack cheese, pimento, mayonnaise/Miracle Whip and maybe a little grated onion.

  • Grits mixed with chopped ham and bacon, butter and eggs then baked as muffins.  It also reappeared another morning baked in a casserole dish.  Laura arranged for Kentucky bacon and sausage to be sent to the house for this event.
  • low country boil.  After the Girl’s Retreat, Jeanne invited some old high school classmates from the class of ’67 for a “Big Chill” weekend.  Pat cooked up a boil for me before I left at the end of the week.  It consisted of new potatoes, corn on the cob chunks, kielbasa and beautiful shrimp caught the day before.  They are all boiled together with Old Bay Seasoning.  The food is drained then dumped onto a table covered with newspaper and you just pick out a little of each, and a little more, and a little more…  There were several cocktail sauces made with differing amounts of hotness available and lots of paper towels.  What a feast!
  • Not new but a catfish sandwich for lunch the first day.  Crispy fish topped with coleslaw and served between 2 slices of white bread.
  • North Carolina IPA and wheat beer
  • And I caught a fish…

Pin fish used for bait.

Lots of relaxing and story sharing

I had the best time with new people in a new place and I can’t wait to get back to this part of the world again.

Full moon over the river

Packing for a Winter in Thailand…What did we really need?

It was difficult packing for a winter in Thailand.  What did we really need?  Having never visited Asia before, we weren’t sure what was essential, what recommended and what would be nice to have. We only had 28 sq. m for living space so we couldn’t take too much.  As we packed to come home, I made some notes for next time.

Prepared for action

Clothing

As almost every travel site will tell you, pack your bag and then take half of it out.  I did that initially, but could have done it again.  Thailand is hot and humid.  It is also very casual.  The only people dressed up were the tourists from China.  I took dresses, shorts, skorts, and wicking t-shirts as well as some stretchy shorts and light t-shirts to use in the gym.  I added a couple of swim suits and a cover up.

Here’s what I found.  The laundry lady on our street washed, dried and folded our clothes about every 10 days for $7.  She usually had them overnight.  That meant I took too many t-shirts.  I also preferred wearing dresses with the stretchy shorts underneath.  The rayon dresses they sell in Thailand for $10 each are perfect for this climate.  They hang loosely and were the coolest, most comfortable option for me.  I had one nice sun dress I brought and a couple of other dresses that were also cool enough.  I would recommend buying dresses on arrival and a long wrap-around skirt to keep packed to use as a skirt or a wrap to be respectful in the temples.

Thai dress

The skorts were useful as they are appropriate for any occasion.  The black one was good when I needed black and white for a choir uniform. I had a white t-shirt but bought a dressier white top when we were performing. I rarely wore the shorts.

The most important item I took was a big white sun hat I purchased at MEC before we left.  I wore it every day.  The chin string seemed a bit uncool until I was riding in tuk-tuks and boats when it became essential.

swim cover and hat locked on

Travelling Clothes

Since we planned to visit the Great Wall of China during our Beijing layover on our flight there, we had a bag of clothes for layering.  We wore zip off hiking pants that were also very practical for our visit to Nepal.  I took a toque and mittens as well as a wind jacket and light fleece jacket.  As it was just around freezing with a light breeze, these clothes were perfect for the stopover.

The coldest high temperature in Chiang Mai was 23,  and only for a couple of days.  I wore my hiking pants once, just because I had them.  I wore a light sweater that I did buy there.  It was also useful in the movie theaters when we sat in the air conditioning for a couple of hours.  A scarf or skirt as a wrap would probably do. Most restaurants were open air with fans so we didn’t experience the chill I feel when sitting in A/C here.  We brought umbrellas and rain jackets.  It only rained twice and was too hot for a jacket.  The umbrellas could have been purchased at 7-11 for a small amount and then left behind.

Brisk day in Beijing

Footwear

For footwear I took flip-flops for the pool, hiking shoes, runners and sandals with good support.  I could have managed with just the runners and sandals but they both were pretty new and I wasn’t sure if they would feel good with all the walking we were going to do.  We had planned to do some hiking, but we didn’t, so I would take the same choices again another time.  There is plenty of footwear for sale, but with my feet I wanted to be sure I had what I needed ahead of time.

Toiletries

As far as toiletries are concerned, you can buy most of what you need.  There are many recognizable brands in the drug stores and grocery stores.  There were a few challenges.  Peter found the toothpaste tubes looked the same as at home, but the taste of Colgate was not the same.  Deodorant is either spray or roll on and contains whitener, as does almost every skin product in Thailand.  They want their skin lighter and we are all trying to make ours darker!  If you like solids, take lots because you will need it in the heat.

I wasn’t able to find 3 products.  I use a hydrogen peroxide solution to clean my contacts.  It is considered “dangerous” and is not sold in Thailand. I had to have some brought from England and Canada.  Blonde hair colour is also not available, which is to be expected in a country where everyone has beautiful black hair. I also had difficulty identifying antacids like Tums in the stores so my sister brought me some from home.

We took towels, but our apartment provided towels for the bathroom and for the pool.  I found some beach size quick dry towels that pack very small.  They were good when we went to the beaches in Krabi.  We also bought full face snorkel masks for the ocean, but there were places to rent them if we had wanted.

Games and Activities

I took a crib board, some cards and a couple of puzzle games.  We did use them, but there was lots to do in the evenings, or we were too exhausted to do much besides watch a little Nat Geo channel.  I took a couple of books with me, but there was a book exchange in our building and a couple of used book stores where I could find lots to read in English. Peter took his guitar and golf clubs.

Electronics

My computer got lots of use.  I bought an ASUS zenbook because it runs on a solid state drive so it is fast and is more durable if (when) it gets bumped around.  It is also powerful enough to run photo editing software. I used it to write my blog, edit photos, watch movies on Netflix, call home on Google hangouts and video call on occasion.  I also had a couple of external drives that I used for picture storage. Pete took his laptop and our tablet.  We also took along a small Bluetooth speaker that we used quite often. We did have a TV in our room that had many English channels, including a movie channel, National Geographic, History, and CNN International.

Phones

Our phones were old when we took them.  After a few weeks of trying to keep them charged or plugged into external batteries to enable Google Maps to keep working to help us find a location, we started looking for something more efficient.  Once Uber became an option, it was essential to have a working phone.  We ended up buying the first new phone in Laos.  It was 2.25 million kip!  This is only $350.  Peter bought another of the Huawei gr5 2017 phones when we returned to Chiang Mai.  They last about 1 1/2 days on a charge.  What a relief.

Chargers and Adaptors

Thailand works on 220V and North America on 110V.  We took a plug-in adaptor with us as well as a small power bar.  We found that our phone and computer chargers work on multiple voltages.  This is printed right on them.  Even my camera battery charger worked.

The cords in Thailand have 2 round pegs and no grounding plugs, however the slot plugs from home would fit into the outlets which had an extra slot for the third peg. They often had to propped up to stay since the plugs had to be inserted sideways, and they weren’t gripped as tightly as we are used to.  The power bar was useful but we didn’t need the adaptor for our plugs.  I didn’t take any other appliances.  I bought a small blow dryer when I arrived.

Money

Thailand, and most of South-East Asia for that matter, is a cash economy.  We rarely used our credit cards, and if we did there was at least a 3% fee added on.  The ATM worked well for taking money from our Canadian account and giving it to us in Thai Baht.  There was a $7 fee for the withdrawal on that end and a $5 fee from our account at home.  We always took the maximum amount possible to minimize the fees.  Next time we would be sure to have a larger limit for withdrawals.  We also needed American dollars to pay for our visas in other countries.  It would probably be cheaper to take some of that currency with us.

We paid our rent with a global e transfer from our bank to the hotel account.  This had a smaller fee than 2 withdrawals would have and worked easily.

Packing

Air China allows 2 free checked bags of 23 kg on their international flights.  When we came, we brought 2 large rolling duffel bags, 1 smaller duffel bag and Pete’s golf clubs.  I had a 40L daypack for my camera/computer equipment and Pete had a similar daypack for carry on as well as his guitar.  We also used the daypacks as luggage for our trip to Laos.

Daypack and hat went everywhere

To return, we were doing well with only buying a few small items for gifts and had decided to replace the smaller duffel with a larger pack from the market.  Luckily we sent the golf clubs and few other items home with our daughter, Melissa, in March before we went to Nepal.  The “made in Nepal” outdoor gear was too tempting.  In the end we brought home our 2 big duffel bags and 2 large North Face waterproof bags full of outdoor clothing that will be great additions to our truck camping supplies.

Things We Left Behind-maybe for next year?!

Thank you for all your interest in our travels.  I will share a few more pictures and shorter stories now that we are home and have time to look through them before we head off on whatever comes next.  I appreciated being welcomed back to church last Sunday with, “We thought you were in Nepal!” since that is where my last post referred to.  It let’s me know people were following us closely.  We never felt lonely on this trip.  Let me know if I can help if you decide to just go to see the world.

 

Suprises in Kathmandu too…the good kind

Surprises in Kathmandu kept sneaking up on us.  They were mostly the good kind. We enjoyed shopping for outdoor gear and eating Nepalese food.  We saw a Hindu wedding event and toured some interesting locations.  Nepal turned out to have more going it than we thought based on our first impressions.

Kathmandu Shopping

One of the things to do in Kathmandu is shop for Nepal made “North Face” items.  I don’t know how they do it, but they are locally made knock-offs that cost little and look pretty authentic. We saw North Face logos and sizing labels for sale in the shops in our street. I bought a rain coat that had 2 pieces of loop velcro on the hood that were sewn onto the same instead of opposite sides of the closure but my tailor lady in Chiang Mai fixed that for me for less than a dollar.

Nepalese Food

We had no idea what Nepalese food consisted of.  I expected lentils and beans which someone had told me they ate in Kathmandu several years ago.  What we found was an international food selection.  There was wood fired pizza, fine dining, French bakeries, Irish pubs, a New Orleans cafe, and the Cafe with No Name that donated its profits to Nepalese education.

We also ate at the Momo Hut one day.  They served traditional food which consisted of momos and Dahl Baht in a Tarkari set.  The Momos were like little pork dumplings you would find at home.  These were stuffed with a spicy chicken and served with a creamy tomato based chutney and some hot pepper.  You can get them steamed, fried, or kothey-which is steamed and fried.  They can be filled with other meat like rabbit or buffalo, vegetables or even chocolate in some places.

Dal Baht is rice and a lentil soup  Tarkari Set is when they serve these 2 ingredients on a tray along with curried vegetables, some pickle and meat if you want.  You eat everything together.  The local custom is to eat it with your hands.   It is usually served with chapati.  Everest, Gorkha, and San Miguel are the local beers.

Hindu Wedding

While preparing to finish our shopping, we heard noise out in our street.  We thought it was more horn honking.  The big trucks have a horn that plays a sort of tune with a series of notes.  I went down to check it out and discovered a band playing outside.  There were about 15 men playing drums, trumpets, baritones and 2 clarinets leading the group.  They played for about 15 minutes, amidst the traffic of pedestrians, bicycles, scooters, cars and trucks, who were still honking at anything they could see in front of them.  The hotel staff said that it was to call out the bride for a wedding ceremony.  He said they would be back again later in the day.

I was returning a backpack to our room later in the day, and the band was playing again.  They played, then began to move down the street, followed by several women in beautiful red saris, which is the preferred colour as it symbolizes fertility and life. There was also a wedding car decorated with real flowers.  I believe the bride was inside. This group didn’t let a narrow street full of loud traffic interfere with their celebration.  Cacophony is the only way I can describe it.

The final performance had the band marching back up the street.  There were more people behind them and many were dancing as the moved down the street towards us.  The groom was walking but I couldn’t tell if the bride was with him, or she got out of the car at a tiny alleyway.  About 20 people crowded into this opening between buildings where the ceremony took place.  The band played outside in the street.  When the ceremony was over, most people entered into the building from the side and most of the band went home.  We heard lots of music throughout the evening from our room.  What fun to be able to observe this event!

Other Things to Do in Kathmandu

There are several things to see within walking distance of the Thamel district, which is the main tourist area.  The Durbar Square-(an opinion link)  area has many HIndu temples as well as the Royal Palace.  Many buildings in this area suffered damage in the earthquake, but we saw a couple having wedding photos taken in the palace courtyard.

People also stopped to light a candle, leave flower petals or wipe red onto the statue of Bhairav. It represents the destructive side of Vishnu, a Hindu god who is the truth god and was used by city officials as a place where people had to swear to tell the truth. We saw dozens of people stop by to offer a prayer to this statue in Durbar Square.

We spent a quiet morning in the Garden of Dreams.  It was developed in the 1920’s by a man who won a game of chance against his father, the prime minister at the time.  He used his winnings to buy the land and turn it into a private garden.  It was later restored by an Austrian group from 2000-2007 and is now a public park.  A beautiful and peaceful surprise in the midst of this dusty and noisy city.

Leaving Kathmandu

Our last day was spent packing up all our new outdoor gear, then sitting on the stoop watching the world pass by.  We saw fruit sellers pushing their bicycles full of oranges, grapes and bananas.  The butcher across the street was slicing off chunks of meat from the chunks sitting outside on a table.  He tossed them into a balance scale and would adjust the weights on one side or the meat on the other.  The yak cheese seller was in her shop.  The counter is at street level and the shopkeeper stands below ground.  The buyer has to bend down to make purchases.  The cheese is covered with a mesh cloth and it is supposed to keep on the counter for 1-2 weeks.

School children were walking arm in arm off to school and includes boys and girls in Nepal.   It is a world away from Rocky Mountain House.

Our drive to the airport required masks for the smog and the horrible amount of dust in the air.  Although our plane was late leaving, we were above the clouds in time to see Everest and its tallest neighbors pushing up above the fluffy white cumulus clouds.  Our last surprise.  Except for the fact that Nepal kind of grew on us once we got over the disappointment of not being able to see the sky or the mountains.  The people and their energy captured our hearts.

Everest through the clouds

 

 

 

Pokhara, Nepal…Some views are good, and others not so much

Road to Pokhara

We had 10 days in Nepal and after 4 days in Kathmandu, we decided to take several people’s advice and go to Pokhara.  It’s a city about 200 km to the west.  I was told it was pristine and tranquil.  There is a big lake and the International Mountain Museum to visit.  After the noise, pollution and energy of Kathmandu, it sounded like a perfect trip.

Our hotel, the Tibet Peace Inn, organized it all for us.  We decided to book a car and driver so we could see some of the countryside.  He would also be available to take us to all the sites once we got there.  His hotel costs would be covered by us, but it would be less expensive than flying there.  In all it cost us about $300 for the transportation for 3 days.

At home, 200 km would take about 2 hours on a calm, organized highway.  In the mountains, it might take 3 hours with traffic.  Our trip to Pokhara took 6 hours with a half hour lunch stop!  The road travelled down into the valley and then mostly curved along the agricultural land and through small villages.  Where mud or rocks slid onto the toad, they were left and traffic just had to go around.

Hundreds of buses and large, brightly decorated trucks all tried to pass each other on every curve.  The honking was constant, but along with flashing light signals, everyone seemed to know how to make it through.  I was going to say safely, but there were many close calls.  I stopped watching.  Our driver knew the road and didn’t drive as aggressively as he could have.

Nepalese Villages

The villages obviously did not expect to have that much traffic as they built there homes along old trade routes.  Houses were built close to the roads with terraced fields taking up most of the land along the valley floor and up the sides.  There were a few suspension bridges that crossed the river to allow access to more homes up on the slopes.  There didn’t appear to be any roads on the other side so most people would have to walk up and down steep slopes to get to their homes.

Water standpipes were in front of about every 6th house.  Women gathered here to wash clothes and children.  Men played games of chance on tables with cards or throwing coins at a target.  Families sat in the shade outside small shops.  Children kicked tattered soccer balls around. Farmers were already planting rice in the fields using cattle to pull a plow.  We saw one mechanical plow in our travels in Nepal.

We went to Pokhara on a Thursday and saw many children waiting with their parents for the school bus to pick them up.  Their traditional British uniforms seemed so out of place in these tiny, dusty villages.  Most of the women here dress in pants and Indian tunics in beautiful colours.  They really contrasted against the mostly blues and greys of the children’s clothing.  These bright sweaters were unusual.

school uniforms

Pokhara

Our arrival in Pokhara was quite disappointing.  It was cloudy and smoggy.  It is a large city (250 000) but the tourist area of Lakeside was admittedly tranquil, but certainly not pristine.  We checked into the Family Home Hotel which had been booked by our hotel in Kathmandu.  The room was large and even had a balcony to sit on and watch the goings-on of the community.  The hotels in Nepal advertise 24 hour hot water and we would agree that this shower had the best heat and pressure of any in Asia.  At breakfast the manager told us to ask for anything we wanted because we were to feel like we were at home.  From our experience, they “get” customer service here.

We walked by the lake.  I had my second surprise to see a scrum of photographers on the shore snapping pics of a woman standing in one of the boats, dressed in a lovely saree.  There was a fog machine nearby trying to create a misty scene.  I don’t know the story, but I took a picture too.  While Peter was waiting, he met a family from India who were visiting.  After a short conversation, they wanted to take our picture with their little girl.  As India is close to Nepal, there were mostly Indians and Caucasians in Pokhara.  We didn’t see many Asian visitors.

Sunrise

Our driver picked us up at 5 am and drove us to the top of a sunrise lookout.  People were waiting to be hired to show us the best place to stand.  We declined. As I was the first there, I had to choose the best place to set up my tripod.  The spot was great, but was difficult to protect once all the tour vans and buses began to arrive.  We did meet a very nice man from South Korea who was well-travelled and showed us some of his incredible mountain pictures.

The hills were still shrouded in mist and a few clouds had formed.  The sunrise looked nice and you could see several terraced fields.  Suddenly the top of a mountain appeared, way above the surrounding hills.  It had snow on the top and was barely pink in the sunrise.  This was Annapurna.  This is why people come to Pokhara.  It is the starting point of the Annapurna Circuit, a trek up the mountain.  Now I knew what all the excitement was about.  The tip of Fishtail Mountain also appeared for a few moments.  The smog and clouds soon covered all the spectacular views and left us with just hills.

Pokhara Sites

We spent the rest of the day touring the area.  We saw the White Pagoda on another viewpoint.  It was built by a Japanese Buddhist who wanted there to be 100  of these built around the world to honor the birth of Buddha in Nepal.  It was begun in 1974, but when it reached 35 feet high it was torn down by the government of the time but was finally completed in 1998.  The 4 Buddhas face the cardinal directions and were donated by countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka.  If you are not sure the expectations at a temple, look for signs.  They will usually tell you.  There was a great little coffee shop with views on the way down.

In the town itself is Devi’s Falls.  It is the dry season, and you have to pay to get in to see the falls.  There are fences and walkways all around this area that is a little bigger than our back yard.  However, there is only on spot you can actually see the falls so it was a little underwhelming.

Devi’s Falls

Across the street is Gupteshwor Mahadev cave.  These were much better.  The river from the falls flows under the street and runs through a cave.  You enter through a newly (as in the cement was still being shaped) renovated entrance, past a shrine, and down many steps to see a waterfall entering the cave.  There is an opening in the rock behind the water so it was quite beautiful.

International Mountain Museum

After lunch we visited the International Mountain Museum.  It is a large, modern building.  We saw photographs and statistics on all the important mountains and when they had been climbed, including quotes from those who were the first to ascend to the peak.  There were profiles on some of the most prolific climbers and samples of some of the gear used in the past.  Descriptions of the culture of the tribes of the mountains were displayed.  Pictures comparing the glaciers in the mountains from 50 years ago to know show that the climate is changing.

Toni Hagen

There was also a display  of photographs taken by Toni Hagen in the 1950’s.  He was a Swiss geologist who came to Nepal with the United Nations to survey and map the area.  His pictures show Pokhara and the mountains at a time when there were no roads to this area. Supplies were delivered by a DC-3 plane in those days.  There is an interesting documentary about his time in Nepal that would be easier to watch with English subtitles, but the pictures and views are still worth seeing.

Neighborhood Happenings

After breakfast, we watched the neighbors across the street remove a tin addition to their small house and begin digging the dirt out from that area.  When we returned in the afternoon, the dirt had all been bagged and replaced with large stones and smaller rocks and bricks as a foundation.  A load of large cement blocks had been delivered and was waiting on the street.

The workers were resting, but 2 men on bicycles arrived.  They bagged up all the metal pieces and loaded them onto the bikes.  Even the tin walls and roof were balanced onto the bike using good knowledge of levers and balance.  They pushed the loaded bikes away from the site.

Sunrise #2

After being led astray by Google Maps to the wrong, but okay restaurant we planned on an early night.  A big lightning storm passed north of town for a couple of hours.  The sound of the thunder echoing around the peaks was more evidence that big mountains really do exist in this area.  We hoped some rain might clear the skies for another try at sunrise, although I worried for some friends who were trekking on the mountain at the time.

At 5 am the stars and moon were bright overhead so we were optimistic.  While the sunrise was quite lovely, and the tall peaks did appear in their entirety, the smog quickly swallowed them up so there was not much left for us to than return to Kathmandu.  Our friends who were on the mountain in the storm had arrived at their guest house early in the afternoon and got to watch the storm.  They arrived in Pokhara 3 days after we left and thought it was the beautiful place. Click the link to see what they saw. Pokhara Images.