Nepal is a long way from home!!! I left my house at 6:30 AM to get to the bus station. The bus for Logan Airport left at 7:30 AM. I arrived in Boston at 9:30, checked-in, went through security and barely had time to grab a cup of coffee before they started boarding my flight.
I flew Emirates – great airline by the way – to Dubai…the flight left at 11:40 and it took 11 hours to fly to Dubai. I watched 5 movies….3 of them were ones that were up for Academy Awards in March! I was surprised to have such recent movies offered. What did people do on such long flights before movies were offered? It would be wonderful to sleep but unfortunately, I cannot sleep on a plane…or I have to be extremely tired in order to sleep. Plus, it seemed like we ate and ate and ate….they would just serve one meal and a couple hours later, they were offering a snack or breakfast.
I landed in Dubai at 8:20 AM (Dubai time) and I have to say that the landing was the best landing I have ever experienced…..and I have flown quite a bit. I didn’t even realize that we had landed…people around me agreed. That was certainly a wow factor! Unfortunately, we had to be bused to the terminal and that seemed as long as the flight! I had a four hour layover, which I was grateful for….because there was yet another bus ride to get to Terminal 2, where I caught my flight on Air Dubai for Nepal.
We left Dubai at noontime and arrived after a 4 hour flight…this was my first view of the foothills of Himalayas!! When I landed in Kathmandu, I had been traveling exactly 24 hours, counting the time I got on the bus for Boston!!!
David, who had arrived that morning, was there; along with our guide, to meet me. Of course, it was wonderful to see him but like he always comments, it is like we had just seen each other yesterday!
The ride from airport to our hotel reminded us of Morocco, there seems to be no rhymes or reason with the cars and motorcycles as they do this intricate dance of weaving in and out amongst each other. All I can say, is I am so very, very glad that I am not driving here. It was later that someone pointed out to me that they drive on the left….I didn’t even realize that as I was so intrigued with the driving!
Our first full day in the city, we had a day of rest before starting our 9 day tour. After sleeping in late and breakfast, we ventured out. It was kind of scary because it is a confusing maze of narrow streets that are lined with travel agencies, restaurants and tons of souvenir shops, that all look the same! We had a map but, of course, none of the streets have street signs. Our destination was the Garden of Dreams that was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel.
Fortunately, the Nepalese are very friendly people and pointed us in the right direction a couple of times. This was from our walk over to the garden….
Clean water will be a true blessing as travelers have to be extremely diligent about anything to do with water….I won’t eat a salad or any kind of raw veggies this trip because if they have been washed in the water, the veggies won’t be clean or safe to eat. Likewise with brushing our teeth, drinking anything with ice and especially not drinking a glass of water. The lack of clean water has created a problem with the overabundance of plastic bottles. With the event of clean water next year, hopefully, there will be less demand for bottled water….and hopefully, tourist won’t have to be so diligent to avoid getting sick on their visits to Nepal!
The first stupas were built to house the ashes and relics of the first Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama because there were no popular images of Buddha at that time. Stupa’s (chorten in Tibet) became symbols for the new faith at that time.
Each stupa has symbolic elements to the construction of it. The square base represents earth, the dome is water and the tapering spire symbolizes fire. The larger ones have 13 steps that stand for the steps leading to Buddhahood.
The Garden of Dreams
This garden was established in 1920 after field marshall Kaiser Sumsher Rana (1892-1964) visited some estates in England. He won close to $10,000 from his father, who was then the Prime Minister, in an epic game of cowrie shells….had to look this one up…it is a game of 4 shells that are shaken by hand and tossed. Not certain about the rest of the rules but that is the general idea.
With the money won, he created this beautiful garden. In its heyday, the garden was on approximately 4 acres of land. It was decorated with fountains, a pond, flowers and 6 pavilions which represented the six seasons of Nepal – spring, summer, rainy, autumn, pre-winter.
For quite a few years, the garden was in disrepair but fortunately, it was saved. The restoration took six years. Today, three of the original six pavilions remain on a little over an acre of the original garden. It is a popular spot for the Nepalese to hang out, picnic and just relax….especially the amorous youngsters! I enjoyed the time that we spent there and when I am feeling overwhelmed with the noise, traffic and life vibes of Kathmandu, I will run to the Garden of Dreams…which, fortunately, is only a 10 minute walk from where we are staying.
Walking back to the hotel, we saw this young man delivering coffee and tea to the local shops. I thought his glass carrier was great and asked to take his photo.
My first feather gift from my guardian angels….their gentle reminder that they are always with me and I am grateful.
The day ended with a dinner and visit with Becca! Oh, the power of the internet. In 2015, I met Becca when I was flying from Portland, ME to Florida to visit my mom and help her celebrate her birthday, which is March 10. So, it was close to exactly two years ago.
We were walking on the jetway boarding the plane. She had a small backpack and I had her pegged as a college student heading to FL for spring break. How wrong I was!!! I asked her where she was headed. We had a layover in Atlanta and she said that from Atlanta, she was going to Chicago for overnight and then leaving the next day for her two year stint in the Peace Corp in Nepal!!! Wow!!! A girl after my own heart! As luck would have it, we sat next to each other on the flight to Atlanta and of course, I asked her a ton of questions. She is so interesting….she grew up in Whitefield, Maine – which is a very small town (population 2,300) outside of Augusta, ME and not far from where I grew up in Hallowell. Thanks to the power of the internet and facebook I have been able to follow her Peace Corp adventure. When David and I decided to visit Nepal, I contacted her and asked if she needed me to bring anything over to her. Becca’s Peace Corp obligation is just about finished and she is planning on trekking through Mongolia and Nepal before returning home. She asked if I could bring some dehydrated food for her trekking trips.
I was more than happy to and went to her home in Whitefield where I met her wonderful parents, Chris and Patti. I will be writing a post about Chris and Patti at some point. I can understand why Becca is the amazing lady that she is with parents like hers. They have a small farm. Patti had just made some peppermint soap and offered me some goat cheese that she had made. I invited myself to their house once back from my trip!!! I want to spend a “day in their life” doing all the interesting things that they must do to keep their farm running. I told them that I would be their “assistant” and do whatever they wanted me to do. Plus, they are so friendly….I just want to get to know them better.
I guess at some point, I had told Becca about my feathers from my guardian angels because when she arrived at our hotel, she had beautiful wrapping paper decorated with gold leaves as a gift for me. I was amazed that she remembered such a small detail and so very grateful for the beautiful paper.
Becca met David and I had to laugh….many people I know have never met David and I think they believe that David is a “figment of my imagination” and that I bought my wedding band in a pawn shop! At least, Becca can vouch for me now that I really do have a husband! The dinner and visit ended all too soon….but we might be able to connect one more time on our trip as Becca is in Kathmandu for meetings and will be returning to her village which takes her through Pokhara. She might be in Pokhara the same time we are and we are hoping to have another dinner together. If not, I will see her when she returns to Maine in the fall.
This is only the beginning of two weeks in Nepal….I doubt if I will be posting anymore during our trip as I won’t have time and the internet can be rather sporadic. I guess you can say that this is just a little tease and hopefully, you will return to hear about the rest of our Nepal adventure!
In closing, I wish you blessings….