Monday was the last day in Kathmandu, and since we had our flight in the evening, it was almost a full day to spend in the city. So after packing my bags, I roamed the backstreets of Kathmandu, with my Lonely Planet in one hand and my camera in the other. Even though it was in Kathmandu and people there are used to tourists, in some of these places I felt like I was the attraction. During travelling, that’s a good thing. I walked all the way to Durban Square, where I watched the activity from a high temple. Afterwards I did some last-minute shopping (got a nice soft-shell fleece jacket).
In the evening the entire group (things had been pretty individual in Kathmandu) went back to the airport, where we checked in. Unfortunately the airline would not label our bags all the way to Amsterdam, so when we got to Heathrow half an hour too late, we had to pick up our bags, go through customs and check in a different terminal. I guess it will come to no surprise when I say that we were too late for our flight. Luckily we got seats on the next bmi flight to Amsterdam, only 2 hours later. From Schiphol to my home town I took the train, and the Dutch railways decided to make my journey even longer by not having trains between Amsterdam and Utrecht. So I had to go through Amersfoort, and missed my connection in Roermond. After 28 hours of travelling I finally arrived home, exhausted from the trip, but full of new impressions and experiences.comments closed
The last long bus trip from Sauraha (near Royal Chitwan N.P.) to Kathmandu was a fine 5,5-hour ride. I’m amazed with the driving skills of our driver, since the roads here are literally packed with almost every mode of transportation imaginable: pedestrians, bikers, rickshaws, 3-wheel minibuses, minibuses, buses, trucks and normal cars. And overtaking traffic in blind bends seems to be the rule rather than the dangerous exception it is in Europe.
The remainder of Saturday I spent relaxing a bit in Kathmandu, and planning activities for Sunday. I woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday, took a taxi to the airport, and checked in with Buddha Air. After sunrise the small plane took off for a mountain flight above the Himalaya. I got to meet the captain in the cockpit, and he pointed out the top of the world: Mt Everest. Then the plane turned around and headed back to Kathmandu. Needless to say, I made plenty of photos.
When I got my feet back on the ground I walked to Pashupatinath, a temple where the dead get cremated. I met Peter there and after exploring Pashupatinath we walked to Bodhnath, a large Buddhist stupa. From there we took a taxi to Bhaktapur, a town with a small car-free centre full of temples and squares. We met a guy who would be our guide, but he only showed us a small part of town, before leaving us at a tourist-trap where they tried to sell us paintings. We listened to the sales pitch, but got out of there as soon as possible and explored the city on our own. A taxi brought us back to Kathmandu.
In the evening I met up with Suzanne and Kim, two girls from the Eindhoven region, who were on the same flight from London to Kathmandu. Both of them are doing 3 months of volunteer work at a hospital in Kathmandu. We had dinner and drinks at a restaurant in Kathmandu and I ate chicken for the first time in 3 weeks, since the meat could not be trusted. But being a vegetarian is not for me, that’s for sure.comments closed
Our time in Royal Chitwan National Park has been marked by rain. On arrival on Wednesday it was not so bad and we managed to visit an elephant breeding centre, where little Dombo got out of the enclosure to play with us tourists. Really cool, especially when dumbfounded French tourists were videotaping the elephants in the enclosure, while a small elephant was walking towards them, pushing them aside.
Thursday morning we went downriver in a hollow tree (very unstable) to go for a walk in the jungle. Unfortunately we didn’t see any rhinos in the rain, and – more unfortunately – the thick bushes were sprawling with leeches. I had to pull 2 off me that had already been drinking a lot of my blood. At least salt kills them quite effectively. The elephant ride in the afternoon was cancelled because of heavy rain. But at least I did get a chance to start and almost finish the book ‘Olifantenpolo’ by the Dutch consul-general of Nepal.
Today the weather cleared up a little bit and we went for a 3-hour elephant ride in the jungle, finally spotting 1 rhino. In the afternoon we made a 4WD tour through the 20.000 lakes community forest. At first I thought it wasn’t possible to fit 10 people in and on a small size trooper-style 4WD, but we managed, alalthough it was pretty cramped. Getting back was the funniest part, since the car repeatedly wouldn’t start after shutting down (no clue why they did that in the first place) and on the way back the car made the weirdest noises.comments closed
After the Annapurna Sanctuary trek I spent the remaining day in Pokhara relaxing a bit. In the morning three of us took a short boat ride on the lake, and we walked up to the World Peace Pagode, from where the view of the lake and the mountains was absolutely stunning. The rest of the day I walked around Lakeside, doing some shopping and checking my e-mails.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we went for an overnight rafting trip on the Seti river. I would say that the rafting was even more relaxing than the day in Pokhara, as as the rapids in the river were – unfortunately – only class II or III at most, and were few and far between. But it was all made up by the excellent crew, who made great breakfast, lunch and dinner on the river shore. After a short bus ride out of the mountains and into the plains we arrived at Sauraha, close to the Royal Chitwan National Park.