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Kathmandu - part 2

Alone again for a total of 1 minute...

sunny 32 °C

So just after I bid farewell to Lindsey, I started yapping to a tall Irish guy from Derry called Bren. We had a right good natter - the usual travelling questions - how long ya out for?, where've ya been?, where ya going? etc. Brendan took redundancy and was out for as long as he liked, the lucky git. He was only at the start of his travels and had just done a month volunteering at an orphanage. We agreed to meet up later on. Meanwhile, I got a text from Mario to say they would adopt me for the day if I was lonely and to come hang out at their fancy hotel. So I dragged Brendan along and we went to their Yak & Yeti hotel for drinks, nibbles and chit chats. They showed us their GO PRO video of them crossing the Khumbu Ice falls on Everest and it was HELLA COOL! I'd love to be able to do a bit of mountaineering and see some awesome sights, but I got altitude sickness at 3200 metres so it probably ain't for me. Plus I actually don't like going uphill for hours on end. Tis torturous! Later we had some pizza and I brought Bren to the Buddha Bar for his first Sheesha. :D

Next day we went to the Garden of Dreams and met up with another Irish guy, Steafan, from the same town as Brendan. Small World. We also met the infamous and mischievous young Dubliner named Damien that we'd heard so much about. (Everyone around town kept asking us if we knew him!) We'd great craic with the two lads and agreed to meet up later for the pub quiz in Maya Pub.

I went to investigate rafting/canyoning and met a nice chap called Craig checking in to the potato. We invited him along to the pub quiz later on. Craig is out travelling for as long as he likes too. He's a writer and works as he travels so can keep going as long as he does a few days work a week. Nice. He is perhaps thee funniest Englishman I have ever met, so I invited him canyoning/rafting too. I'd decided to book 1 day rafting on the Bhote Kosi river. This has class 4 + rapids and was NOT covered by my insurance! ;) I also wanted to do 1 day canyoning, which is basically abseiling, sliding and jumping down waterfalls on the side of mountains. SUPER CRAIC.
So after much cajoling, Bren and Craig agreed to come rafting/canyoning with me and we booked the 2 days 1 night at the Last Resort Lodge for Saturday morning. We decided not to do it tomorrow (Friday) as we were going to the Pub Quiz later and would probably be hungover. :D

So we met up at Maya Pub at 8 for the pub quiz. There was myself, Bren, Craig, Steafan, and Damien on one team and we named ourselves ''Crazy Joe's Sore Foot''. Crazy Joe was the US dude who had been looking for Damien a few nights before. He was apparently a mad yoke and constantly on the beer and has busted his foot open during one of his drinking sessions. Anywho, King Zamundo (Coming to America) seemed to be the Quizmaster, which was awesome, and he had an Irish dude giving him a hand, who gave us a few hints on the auld answers aswell.
Maya pub was good craic, it was an old skool style pub - dark, with candles and a crazy selection of chunes on the audio box. The questions in the quiz were feckin rediculous though - a load of questions about the SAARC countries, philosophical quotes and other mad stuff, but after a few rounds, we were doing well and were in joint 1st place. Yearrrrrrrh. Some mad Irish woman with a crazy accent came over to chat to us and confused us all with her US/Northern Ireland/Dublin accent. (I really don't understand how people lose their accent or muddle it up with someone else's after being out of their own country for a few weeks)!.

Suddenly there was a huge loud WHOOMPH of a bang outside. We could feel the sheer force of it under our chairs in the pub. Everyone rushed to the window to see what was going on, including me. People were pouring onto the streets to find out what had happened and there were lots of people running down the street towards the noise. As more and more people packed onto the road, we heard that a cooking gas canister had exploded a block or two down from where we were, and a huge fire had started. The fire was centred on the Pilgrim Book Store and was gathering in size and momentum very quickly. As people in the pub began to realise what was happening, they began to panic a bit and started to pay up and leave. After a few minutes, we thought it might be prudent to do the same. The road we were on was full of restaurants and bars and was chock full of gas canisters (due to the constant electricity shortages) and copious amounts of booze. We were expecting to hear many more booms at any moment and I half expected the whole street to go up in one big explosion. We flung money at the bar man and legged it back to the Hotel Potato, which was actually only about 50 m away from the flames. As we walked through the crowds, we could see the flames. The fire was HUGE. The flames were as high as the tallest building on the street and seemed to be getting bigger. There were hundreds of people on the road filming and watching the fire, and police had just arrived. They were trying to control the crowds and move them on. It took about 45 mins for the first fire engine to arrive on the scene.

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We returned to Hotel Potato quickly where we made a decision to grab our passports and wander out of the Thamel area and find a bar or hotel away from the madness. So the only place we really knew that was a bit away was the Yak & Yeti, so off we trotted. We got a very expensive beer each there and lounged around on the sofas in the lobby for a few hours. We periodically asked the hotel staff to check the status of the fire for us and each time we were told it was getting worse and not under control yet. At 2am, Bren did some negotiating with the hotel staff and got us 2 rooms for the night. We got some good kip and next morning checked to see if anything was in the news about the fire, but there was nada! We availed of the whopper breakfast buffet and bumped into the Everest gang again. I'm sure they must have thought we were obsessed with them or something, constantly turning up at their hotel! :D They were off sightseeing for the day so we said goodbye and returned back to Thamel. The streets were still busy with onlookers , police and fire engines. They had managed to get the fire under control after about 9 hours. The fire had destroyed a block of 3 or 4 buildings, and the Pilgrim book store which was full of rare and old books was gutted, but tbh I think they were lucky it wasn't more!

So we went for lunch later on and for a few beers in the evening. This seems to be what we do most days in K. Although I knew we were going rafting and canyoning at 6am the next day, so I packed it in and hit the sack at midnight. I advised the two lads, Craig & Bren to do the same, but they waved me away with my stuffy parental advice and stayed up drinking on the roof of the Potato. Our hotel security guard - 5 beeya - had developed a routine of selling us '5 beeya' and after hours sandwiches on the rooftop every night. We reckon we put a few of his kids through college. ;) He's a mad yoke. I asked him for a vodka, he said ''ahh vodka..yes'' and came back with a lime. :D lolz. Gas man!

Posted by squeakylee 18:51 Archived in Nepal Tagged pub fire kathmandu yak thamel yeti quiz Comments (0)

Rafting class 4+ rapids on the Bhote Kosi River.

MAN OVERBOARD!

overcast 27 °C

So obviously the next morning, it's difficult to get Bren out of the bed. Myself and Craig were knockin on his door for 15 minutes, til we realised his door was unlocked. We peeped in and he was passed out on the bed. Obviously he was delighted to see the two of us at the end of his bed at 5.45am! :D He got his shit together quickly and the three of us headed to the meeting point for The Last Resort. We piled onto the bus and met 2 Canadian dudes, both volunteering in Nepal, both from the same place in Canada but didn't know each other before the trip! Anywho, they were rambling aloud and we joined in the convo. They were Noam and Spencer. Noam, small, dark and funny - 24 going on 50 with a great selection of odd words and phrases...e.g ''abrasions''... ''very well then'' :D Spencer was the opposite - tall, fair, blonde and with a great booming voice. Both great lads, fun and funny. We also had 2 German boys on the bus but they didn't chat to us, and 1 Ruskie - Alex - a Russian dude from Chicago.

We stopped the bus at a Last Resort joint and had a yap and a cuppa tea. Then on we went to the put-in point for the rafting. Today's rafting would be class 4 + rapids, so bouncy enough! All of us got to go in the same raft, which was super cool. Bren and Spence, being the big lads, were put in the front of the raft, while myself and Noam were popped in the back. We had an awesome guide named Chris who put us through our paces practising. He'd shout directions and instructions at us and we'd jump to it! Literally!
''Forward! Forward Faster! Back Paddle. Left Side Jump Right! GET DOWN'' etc. He showed us how to hold the oars so we wouldn't lose them and told us what to do if we fell out.
So armed with all these instructions and information, we set off. It was great craic. The first bit of the river wasn't too bumpy, although we still plunged down rapids and paddled furiously over and around giant rocks and got soaked. There was also a bit of floating down certain calmer bits of the river, which enabled us to have a look around and take in the awesome scenery. There was one rapid that we couldn't do as it was too dangerous, so we had to get out and walk for that one.

When we got back into the boat, everything had gone up a notch. It was a much bumpier ride and we were Left-side-jumping and getting-down a lot more often. At one point, the raft got stuck on a giant rock and we all had to jump left to try and jiggle it free, but I kept sliding down between Noam's legs. It was so funny and to be honest a lil scary mary.

Just before we reached the end, we went over a big rapid and bounced all over the place and lost one of our crew. Alex the Ruskie, boinged out of the raft and into the water. There followed a few hairy moments as we tried to get him back into the boat. Once we spotted him in the water, we back paddled furiously to allow our guide to pull him in towards the boat. Alex was a bit bigger than the guide so it took a bit of doing. Chris got him onto the side of the boat and Alex clung onto the rope with most of his body still in the water. Meanwhile, we were moving fast and furiously through big rapids and choppy waters. Chris yelled at us to get down and we ducked for cover, with Alex still clinging on tightly, as the boat bumped its way downriver. Then we got stuck on another rock and we were all jumping left and right like mad trying to get Alex back into the boat! Chris nearly got him in, but with the speed the boat was moving, and Alex's large frame, it was very difficult for Chris to get him right in. Chris just about had Alex in the boat and myself and Noam grabbed Alex too and hauled him in completely. As Alex was being dragged under by the current during the action, his underpants had come down and his big white bottom was mooning the other 2 boats that were rafting behind us. Alex looked terrified but said he was ok. Chris said the currents under the boat were really dragging Alex underneath and it could have been very dangerous for him to go under. Alex seemed more embarrassed about mooning everyone!

A few minutes later, we pulled over and realised we were at the end point. Once we confirmed that Alex was ok, it was then safe to laugh at the few minutes of arse action! It was so funny! But again, it was a bit of a hairy moment! (boom). Alex could have been swept off or under the raft. Bren managed to get a busted lip during the rescue op and I got a paddle in the face. We all paddled high 5 and then got out of the boat to get changed. At this stage now, were are cracking up (boom) over the whole incident. Poor Alex has taken it all in his stride though and was having a good laugh about it as well.

After a delicious lunch of spaghetti, veg and coleslaw, we hopped back on the bus to be brought to our place of rest for the evening - the lovely picturesque tented lodge - The Last Resort. To get there we had to drive for 30 minutes on the worst road in the world and then walk across a giant 160m high bungee bridge that hovered over a ginormous gorge and river below.

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Arrgh, it was so high up! Anyway the boss of the last resort, Patrick O'Keefe was with us and he said he actually built that bridge. It was used to transport all the rocks and materials to build The Last Resort Lodge. The lodge was a cool joint with tented accommodation, a lovely big dining hall nestled into some lush surroundings, a nicely stocked bar, a plunge pool, sauna, massage room and hot showers. At the lodge, you could choose to do a bungee jump, the world's highest canyon swing, raft the class 4 rapids, canyon down waterfalls or just chill out for a few days in a hammock.

It was a fab place and we would have liked to have stayed on a bit longer but it was 45 euro a night so I knew I could only afford 1 night before heading back to Hotel Potato!
Anywho I dumped my stuff in my tent and went to the bar area to have a DELICIOUS wine and play solitaire with my deck of cards. Bren soon came along and we played a few games of poker. Then the rest of the lads came along and we all had a few drinks and the craic.

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The boss Pat joined us and told us some of his epic tales of how he had been an Olympic horse jumper in the 80's and had a few more interesting projects before finding success with The Last Resort. He also ran a business in Japan with his wife. Great day and great night! :)

Posted by squeakylee 19:54 Archived in Nepal Tagged resort moon last rafting 4 class rapids overboard Comments (0)

Canyoning down Waterfalls on the side of a mountain

sunny 29 °C

Next day we were like 6 boobheads trying to get ourselves together for canyoning. As soon as 4 of us were ready to go, 2 others would have disappeared. SIGH. Eventually we all donned our very unflattering Star Trek wetsuits, harnesses and helmets and hiked up the terraced fields to the put-in point for canyoning. We were only doing 1 day of canyoning so our day would mostly consist of abseiling down wet slippery rocks, under waterfalls, and sliding into river pools - apparently the second day of canyoning would have contained a lot more jumping off 50 metre high waterfalls! So at the top our guide started giving us the rules and instructions etc on how to canyon/abseil. You let some rope through your hand, lean your body back, then move your feet. Alex wasn't paying attention to any of this information as he was taking a picture of a spider. I wandered if it would be him again today who had an accident!

So off we went down the side of a mountain, abseiling away. It wasn't difficult but it was fierce slippy on the slimy rocks and I had a bit of a dangle here and there when I lost my footing. Bren seemed to be a natural at it. Poor auld Craig looked terrified and spent a good bit of time sliding down rocks on his knees! :D Alex luckily seemed grand. Spence was slow but steady and Noam seemed his usual cool as a cucumber self. It was very pleasant good exercise. It was a bit scary every now and then but more ''woah'' then ''ARRRGH''. It was also tough on the auld hands and arms though and my arms started to get very heavy and sore. There were 7 waterfalls to asbseil down. The 3rd one was the best - we had to go through a tunnel and under the waterfall. The rushing cold water beating down on my head threw me off a bit. My feet slipped and I slid around on my knees for a minute or 2 but forced myself to concentrate and mosied on. I could see a rainbow when I was under the waterfall - hella cool!!

From our viewpoints at the top of the waterfalls, we could see people doing the bungee jump and canyon swing off the bridge. Noam had decided to do the World's Highest Canyon Swing - which is basically like a bungee jump but you're attached at your waist, instead of your feet. You jump off the bridge at the same height but you jump feet first, as opposed to head first! This appealed to me as I felt there would be less chance of detached retinas if I wasn't jumping upside down off a 160m high bridge. I had agreed to do the canyon swing the night before, after a few drinks, but I was having an auld doubt or two as to whether I could muster up the courage to do it.

But anyways, we abseiled down another 4 waterfalls - the last one was 45 metres high! EEk! But no one fell off or did themselves an injury. The canyoning was fun, but I preferred the rafting to be honest. My arms were bollixed after abseiling and there was a lot of waiting around between waterfalls. Still it was a grand way to spend a morning. After a shower and lunch, it was Canyon Swing Time. I decided FECK IT, let's just do it, and I went and paid for it. No going back now! :D

Alex broke out a bottle of rum and treated us all to shots of it before the big off. Then a few minutes later, a guy came round to get myself and Noam and off we went. The rest of the lads went to the viewing area to watch and myself and Noam took to the bridge. I. Was. Terrified. The guy came along to harness us both up and explained to us what we had to do.
''holdontotherop, jumpfeetfirst,thenletgooftheropewhenyougetswinging,lookforanotherrope,grabthat,pullitandpullyourselftowardstheblueladderoverthere''..
ehhhhh.. WHAT?

So I went first anyways - I was so nervous, my arms and hands had frozen with fear. I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold onto the feckin rope at all. So I went under the barrier and shuffled forward ever so slowly to the edge. ARRRRRRRRRRGH IT WAS SO HIGH UP. I was breathing hard trying not to get too panicy, but there was no time to panic. Yer man goes ''3,2,1 jump'' and I jumped off. It was so weird and the air was rushing into my face. I'm pretty sure I mumbled something like ''wohoohaah..ddrardgg'' as I jumped. When it got to the swingy bit, it was awesome. I swung and bobbed around for a few minutes, then slowed down and dangled over the rushing water below. My arms still weren't working properly and I had the shakes, so couldn't grab the tether rope to pull myself in. My hands were actually frozen with fear. LOL. The dude at the side of the river took over and pulled me in to the ladder. The swing itself was ace - my only gripe was it was that it was too short. We hardly had time to register the freefall. But it was still awesome. The sheer terror I felt on the bridge made it amazing.

Noam jumped after me - he was as cool as a cucumber. Not a bother on him - he really enjoyed it too but agreed it was too short and over in no time.
We high 5'd and trekked back up the mountain for half an hour to get back to the lodge for a celebratory shot and beer. The lads had taken some cool photos for us and after our post mortem of the events of the day, all too soon it was time to get back on the bus to Kathmandu. :(

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The bus took yonks to get back but once we were in K we all went straight to the Electric Pagoda for dinner and drinks, then back to the 5 Beeya rooftop for a few tipples. :D

Posted by squeakylee 20:30 Archived in Nepal Tagged canyon resort last swing bungee terror canyoning Comments (0)

Nepal Round up

Time to sayyy goodbyeeee

sunny 30 °C

So Nepal was amazing. The scenery, people and food were all fantastic. I met the most awesome chums and did a load of fun, nailbiting adventurous activities!

We got blessed by a Buddhist monk in Lumbini - the birthplace of the Buddha.

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I saw rhinos from the back of an elephant in Chitwan National Park.

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Went paragliding beside the Annapurna Range on a spectacularly sunny day in Pokhara.

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Did a 6 day yoga trek to Poon Hill with 5 other awesome solo female travellers - Krissy, Beata, Lindsey, Kathy & Zimmy. With mucho trekking and lots of meditation and yoga - this trek was both taxing and relaxing. :)

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Saw the most beautiful sunrise over the Himalayas that moved me to tears.

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Hung out with the most gorgeous and positive soul, Lindsey in Pokhara for a few weeks.

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Met the best bunch of lads - Brendan, Craig, Steafan & Damien in Hotel Potato, Kathmandu for a week of beer, sheesha, laughing, mini golf, gas explosions advoidance and lazing in the park.

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Went whitewater rafting down class 4 and 4+ rapids on the Botoe Kosi River with Spence, Noam, Bren, Craig and Alex.

Canyoned and abseiled down beautiful waterfalls and mountains with aforementioned awesome lads.

Scared the shit out of myself by jumping 170 m off a bridge into a giant canyon and river below, while doing the World's Highest Canyon Swing in the Last Resort with Noam.

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Farewell Nepal - it's been Epic. :)

Posted by squeakylee 01:57 Archived in Nepal Tagged canyon rafting adventures gas kathmandu explosion bungee Comments (0)

Off on the road again..

sunny 31 °C

So it was off to the airport again for round 2 of my attempt to fly to Beijing. This time it worked! Got on a plane that unexpectedly stopped off at Lhasa in Tibet without letting us know. The scenery from the air as we flew put of Kathmandu and over the Himalayas was spectacular. I wasn't in a window seat (doh! as I thought the flight was going to be trunty hours long) so could only peep over other people's shoulders, but what I could see was so clear it was amazing and so beautiful.
Couldn't take any pictures but took a picture from Lhasa airport! :D
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At customs in Lhasa, the security dude took an almighty interest in my books. In particular, my Michael Palin - Himalayas book. I thought he was just interested, until he started copying down my passport details onto the front pages of the book.
"Weird", I thought.
"Hope I get to keep it now that he's put all that fancy writing on it!"
But alas I could not.
He pointed to a picture in the book, the one with MIchael Palin arm in arm with the Dalai Lama and said "Dalai Lama - no!!" and waggled his finger at me!
"Oh ok"says I.
Lol. Dammit.
Although to be fair, I was finding that difficult to read anyway with all it's descriptions of places. And I kept pressing on the words I didn't understand hoping for the dictionary meaning to pop up, only then to remember that this was actually a real book and not in fact my intelligent Kindle Fire. ;)

So the second flight was 2 hours with a stopover in Chengdu aka Pandaland for another 4 hours.
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I tried to order noodles in two restaurants in the airport, but the staff just fell about laughing at me so I gave up, feeling sheepish and like a big eejit.

WHY DID I LEAVE NEPAL?? IT WAS NICE THERE!!

Third flight of the day had a fat man snoring beside me. Booo - shut up you twat! So after a delicious ass sandwich, (seriously, the other guy beside me said it looked like donkey) we arrived into Beijing at about 1:30 am. By the time I got my bag and a second taxi, (the first taxi driver just shrugged at me and waved me away and took another passenger), it was about 2.30 am.

The second taxi driver seemed to know where I was going, from my written Chinese scribbles, but when we were on the road, he rang the hostel to find out the proper address, then demanded more money off me. Arghhh. Git.
There is something comfortably familiar to once again confirm the fact that taxi drivers the world over are complete assholes. Obviously I had to agree to give more money to avoid being dumped out on the highway at 2 in the morning.

So anyways he ditched me at the end of this dark alleyway and gestured down it, shouting something at me, before he buggered off with his cash. So I mosied down the alleyway tentatively, following the email directions for the hostel on my phone. The directions say to "enter at the two wooden red doors with red lanterns outside".
Hmmm.
Every second door was red with lanterns outside.
So I came across 2 red doors with red lanterns outside, but the place was in complete darkness. I gently pushed the door open and snuck in. (Dunno why I was sneaking, I would eventually have to wake someone up to get in!!)
I had to turn on my torch to see properly. I surveyed the joint CSI style and was mighty disappointed, I hoped to God/Buddha that it wasn't my hostel. It was a junk yard. A dog started barking his head off and I hot-footed it out of there and back into the alleyway.
That couldn't have been it.
I realised then that the 2 doors were actually iron and not wood so it probably wasn't it. But where the hell was my hostel!? I tried to ring the hostel, but my phone won't ring out in Asia for some reason. So I stood there in the dark alleyway looking up and down and wondering what the feck to do.
I also thought it would probably be quite funny tomorrow -me sneaking into people's houses in the dead of night. So I decided to continue on further down the alleyway and lo and behold, a few minutes later, I stumbled upon 2 wooden doors with lanterns outside and with the words "BACKPACKER HOSTEL" written on them in big white writing. :D hee hee.

I dinged the bell and was admitted to the cutest indoor courtyard with cobbled stones, lovely long wooden tables, a pond with goldfish in it and lovely red lanterns dangling down from the incredibly high ceiling. :)

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I was shown to my 8 bed mixed dorm (2 adjoining rooms with 2 sets of bunk beds in each) and dumped my stuff on a bed. There were obviously people in the other room but they were more than likely out drinking. My bed was comfy and I read some of my Arnold Schwarzenegger book for a while. Up until that moment today, I'd just wanted to return to Kathmandu and my chums in the hotel potato, but my bed was so cosy and the hostel so cute, that I thought maybe, juusssssst maybe, everything would be alright... ;)

Posted by squeakylee 21:13 Archived in China Tagged flight kathmandu Comments (1)

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