It’s about 11 in the morning of my last day on vacation and I have to say that I am feeling lonely. About 2 days ago the group I’d been traveling with said good-bye to four members as they went their own way. Yesterday two more left for their next journey, and today after breakfast, I said good-bye to almost all the rest. I’m leaving for the airport in about 30 minutes, but I’m sharing the taxi with a member of the group. I know, a lot of numbers, so to summarize, I’ll just say that the group has been breaking apart for the last three days and it’s kind of sad. Of course there are some members that I really am going to miss, and it was toughest to say goodbye to them, but all of the group have been fantastic. I don’t think I could have asked for a better bunch of people to travel with. Even now while I’m sitting at the airport waiting to board my plane to Delhi, I’m missing a couple of the group right now. It is kind of funny that my job requires that I am in control of a classroom and speak in front of dozens of students every day and in my personal life I am very quiet, almost an introvert. This tour I really didn’t talk that much and just followed along like a member of the group mentioned, “like a gold fish.”

I made it home in one piece but I don’t think I can say that I’m glad to have all the comforts of home right now. I will say that I am glad to be out of the cold. I have to remember that I don’t do cold very well, and in fact if I were to say anything negative about the trip it would have to be the cold. Otherwise this was a great tour with some of the best people to share it with.

What will I be doing next? I’ve already been checking into a small vacation back to India sometime in the next couple of months, and I’ve volunteered for a trekking/kayaking adventure along the Amazon so who knows.

The tour officially ended this morning, but there is still the majority of the group still together. About five of us decided to take a flight to see Mt. Everest. I normally would not have done a flight like this, but I really wanted a reference in my mind of what the mountain looked like. You know that it is the highest point in the world, and that many people have died trying to climb it, but do you have a mental image of what it looks like? I didn’t. We took off right at sunrise in a turboprop that fit about 20 passengers. Each of us had our own window and when we got close enough to see Everest the pilot let up come up and take some photos from the cockpit. A nice touch, but to be honest I’m still not completely sure what Everest looks like. I mean I saw what the flight attendant was pointing at, and I know I saw Everest, but we stayed far enough away that there were always other mountains almost at high in the view. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever had someone point out something in the distance,

“See that tree out there? Look to the left of it.”

“The one with the branch sticking out?”

“No. Not that one, the one that’s further back…”

You get the idea? Oh well, it was fun anyway.

Flight to Everest, Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

Flight to Everest, Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Flight to Everest, Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

Flight to Everest, Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Flight to Everest, Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

After the flight ended, two of the group had to catch a flight to Thailand, and the remaining three of us headed back to the hotel to meet up with the remaining group. The rest of the day we just walked around the city checking out temples and taking photos of nearly everything around us. We even headed about 10 km outside of Kathmandu to see a medieval city. Not a huge amount of things to take photos of but still very interesting.

Flight to Everest, Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog

Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog   Kathmandu, Nepal kenneth curtis travel blog  

Kathmandu is really nice city. It’s got kind of the dirty feel of India, but without the hustle and bustle that can really tax a person after a few hours. There is a strong western presence here as well. The shops seem to fall into about three categories, souvenirs, trekking gear, and restaurants/coffee shops all of which has bee fun to see. About the only thing that I have to say that I don’t like here is weather, or maybe not the weather, but the cold. In the day it’s been sunny and warm, but at night it is really uncomfortably cold. Coming from Dubai it has been tough on my to get used to it, and honestly I don’t think that I could ever get used to it.

We got into Kathmandu in the early afternoon and got our rooms after a short wait. The rooms weren’t anything special but it was nice to stop moving after the 6 or 7-hour ride through the mountains. It wasn’t long afterwards that we all joined up again to go to a coffee shop for some internet and light lunch. I can’t speak for anyone else on the tour but it was really nice at the shop. It was open on one side, the sun was warm, and the Internet was free, which always makes things better.

Kathmandu, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog   Kathmandu, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog

Kathmandu, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog   Kathmandu, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog

We decided to head to a temple on the far side of the city which has a great view of Kathmandu. I’m not that interested in temples as anyone who has read some of the blogs from my other trips would know, but I do appreciate both the age and significance of them to their followers. The temples on this trip have an added benefit of having monkeys wandering around, and if you’ve ever been around monkeys you’ll know how photogenic they are. Always a great photo opportunity when monkeys are playing.

Kathmandu, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog   Kathmandu, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog

From the temple we all kind of split up some went to do some shopping others went back to the hotel. I went back to the hotel with two others. For dinner we all met and went to a Western style pizza place. Nice place and good pizza.

Our second day in Chitwan was filled with a few ‘adventure’ items. Note that I put adventure in quotes, I did this because it was a little staged and not really adventurous at all. First we headed for a jungle trek with elephants. Definitely cool, but except for riding on top of an elephant with three other people it was painful but interesting. I had my GoPro camera out on an extended tripod taking video from various angles. I’m sure I looked pretty stupid, but at least I got some interesting shots… hopefully.  The elephant ride took about an hour and we were lead around a semi big area full of deer and a couple of rinos. The rinos though just laid there and many of us later talked about how drugged they looked.  In fact the whole experience during the time at Chitwan seemed like a theme park that had staged animals to give the tourists a sense of danger or realism.

Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog   Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog

Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog   Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog

Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog   Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog

Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog   Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog

Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog   Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog

What was really fun was the elephant bath at the river’s edge near our hotel. I like elephants and when they are playing in the water it just makes them looks so cute. For a small fee people were able to take the bath with the elephants and that was so much fun to watch. The photos from that were great. I wanted to do it myself and would have if someone would’ve pushed me just a little. It really looked like fun.

Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog   Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog

Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog  

Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog   Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog

After the elephant bath we had lunch and then headed out for a canoe ride and a visit to an elephant breeding center. Again, I hate to sound so harsh, but the whole thing seemed so staged and phony. We saw a few alligators (or crocodiles) laying along the shore but at no time did they move. I mean, I don’t think I saw any of them blink, or even breathe. We even joked that they looked like they were stuffed and placed in various locations. I guess in the big picture it was fun and something to remember, but at the time it just seemed ridiculously staged.

Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog   Chitwan National Park, Nepal Ken Curtis blog

We arrived at Chitwan National Park on the 30th of January at about 3pm. The park is supposed to be a very popular wilderness area. From the little that I know about it, it supposedly boasts elephants, rhinos, crocs and other exotic creatures. Part of our time here is going to be seeing some of them in the upcoming two days. After we arrived we had lunch and got our rooms. It wasn’t long before I was down by the river taking photos of the water and the sunset. It was kind of weird, there are a lot of hotels that are on the river and in front of many of them there are lounge chairs facing the river. The thing is, is that there really isn’t that much on the river to see, at least not enough to lounge around in the cold weather. After taking all the photos of the river area we all went to dinner and called it a fairly early night.

Chitwan National Park, Kenneth Curtis blog   Chitwan National Park, Nepal

Lumbini, Nepal is the place where Buddha was born. I didn’t know too much about it, but I liked the idea of being there. I’m not a religious person, but I do consider myself spiritual and if I were to follow any organized religious philosophy it would probably be Hinduism or Buddhism, though I have to admit I don’t know much about either. The whole time we were there it was cold and mostly foggy. At night the people at the hotel/camp light fires and the whole group drank, talked, and played games around the fire. It was just good fun. As I mentioned the weather was cold and foggy and in some ways it added to the fun of the day. It was a good time and I can say that I enjoyed the whole experience, and also got some great photos. We only had the morning there before we took off for Kathmandu.

Lumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blogLumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog

Lumbini, Nepal is the place where Buddha was born. I didn’t know too much about it, but I liked the idea of being there. I’m not a religious person, but I do consider myself spiritual and if I were to follow any organized religious philosophy it would probably be Hinduism or Buddhism, though I have to admit I don’t know much about either. The whole time we were there it was cold and mostly foggy. At night the people at the hotel/camp light fires and the whole group drank, talked, and played games around the fire. It was just good fun. As I mentioned the weather was cold and foggy and in some ways it added to the fun of the day. It was a good time and I can say that I enjoyed the whole experience, and also got some great photos. We only had the morning there before we took off for Kathmandu.

Lumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog   Lumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog

Lumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog   Lumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog

Lumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog   Lumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog

Lumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog   Lumbini, Nepal Kenneth Curtis blog